MG is a military specialist having spent quality time in the Indian Air Force. He is also an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College.
America produced the A-Bomb in 1945 and Stalin was nonplussed. The Russian through their spy Colonel Rudolph Abel were able to catch up and in 1949 exploded and tested a nuclear device. But despite this, a delivery vehicle eluded the Russians and they had no aircraft that could deliver the A or H Bomb to the hinterland of America. Josef Stalin felt greatly handicapped and he reportedly in a meeting with Andrei Tupolev the Russian aircraft designer asked him to produce a delivery weapon in the shape of a long-range bomber. This was the genesis of the TU -95 which saw the light of the day with a flight in 1952. Tupelov worked hard at designing the plane which at that time became the worlds largest plane. The cold war was in full swing and the Russians desperately needed a deterrence. This came in the shape of the Tu 95 given code name the Bear by NATO. It was a turboprop plane with a top speed of 710 miles per hour but more important had a range of 9000 miles. Thus it had the capacity to strike deep into the heart of America and gave the Soviet leader something to cheer about.
Andrei Tupolev was a hero of the Soviet Union. In a way, he was a product of the revolution and even held the rank of Major General in 1944. Tupelov was born in 1888 and died in 1972. His pioneering work was the setting up of the Tupelov aircraft factory in 1922. He was a genius and during his career designed more than 100 types of aircraft, some of which set 78 world records. When Stalin entrusted him with the task of producing a delivery system for his atomic bombs Tupelov delivered the goods and the result was the Tu-95.
The TU-95 was for some time an enigma but the West soon got a hang of the plane and NATO christened it the "Bear". With a range of 9000 miles, the plane could carry Atomic weapons to the hinterland of America. Of course many would be shot down but even if one plane reached the heart of America the devastation could be catastrophic.TheBear was a 4 engine turboprop plane powered by the Kuznetsov engines. These engines were at that time the biggest and most powerful engines in the aviation world. The plane had large bomb bays as the Atomic bombs were large gravity falling bombs. The Russian Air Force was delighted with its acquisition even as America was alarmed.
The plane has been part of the Strategic Air Forces of Rusia for close to 5 decades. Even now as per the vision document published by the RAF the plane will continue in service till 2040. The plane has been upgraded with the latest avionics and ECM and ECCM.
Upgradation of the plane involves its development as a force multiplier and the latest planes can carry cruise missile and laser-guided bombs. It can carry nuclear weapons and this can be launched from afar.
The plane, however, makes a tremendous noise and I would say it's a drawback. In case the plane dives at full speed the noise it makes can be heard even by submerged submarines. But despite this its a potent weapon system and served its purpose during the cold war as a deterrent and the smaller nations like the UK and France had something to fear. One is reminded of the threat of Nikita Khrushchev that England would not survive 5 H bombs.
The plane is getting dated and 2 years back two of these machines crashed in Siberia leading to the grounding of the entire fleet. But after technical evaluation, the planes have again taken to teh air. The Russian at present operates 59 of these machines and they remain a formidable part of Russian arsenal and a reminder that Russia is not yet a pushover.
India and the Bear
India had a long association with Russia and in 1970 signed a defense pact for 20 years. This has now lapsed but I have always wondered why the IAF did not ask for the Bear? It could have been a game changer and entire North China and Manchuria would have been in Indian sights.
There is however no doubt when the history of aviation is written the Bear will be remembered as one of the great planes of the world.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 27, 2020:
Thanks, Tom, the TU 95 was a Great plane and I had a ride in it once while in Russia.
tom on September 26, 2020:
indian navy used tu 142 ,modified tu 95 til lrecently,please watch wings of red star discovery channel
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 11, 2019:
Dear brother Mehra, its a million dollar question
R Mehra on April 10, 2019:
A wonderful article about a legendary plane. I also wonder when India was so close to Russia why didn't we ask for a couple of Bears?