The winged legacy of the USSR is still faithfully serving the new Russia.
InosMi writes that the United States feared the military might of the Soviet Union for good reason. Soviet military developments, including aircraft engineering, were often so ahead of their time that many of them are still relevant today. As examples, Business Insider highlights some of the types of cruise missiles still in service with the Russian air force.
“Perhaps the best known of the Soviet and Russian maritime patrol aircraft is the Tu-95, according to NATO classification Bear or Bear,” the Americans write, “The Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Air Force and Navy in 1956, replacing the Tu-4. With a ceiling of 12,000 meters and a range of more than 14,000 kilometres, the “Bear” can carry almost 12 tons of ammunition.”
Despite Russia’s current possession of far more modern aircraft, the “old” Tu-95 and its improved version, the Tu-142, survived the Cold War and are in service in the Russian air force and navy. Through skilful modifications by Russian engineers and designers, the lifespan of both machines is expected to be extended to 2040.
“The IL-38, known in NATO as May or May, is a modification of the IL-18 civilian airliner. It entered service with the Soviet Navy in 1967 for maritime patrolling and anti-submarine warfare. The IL-38 has a ceiling of nearly 10,000 meters, a range of about 8,000 kilometres and a top speed of 640 kilometres per hour. It can carry up to 9 tonnes of mines, depth charges and even anti-ship missiles or torpedoes in its two internal weapon compartments”, – Business Insider quotes the aircraft’s technical specifications as saying.
Its main specialisation is anti-submarine operations and it usually carries hydroacoustic buoys that are dropped into the water to eavesdrop on submarines. Like the Tushkas, the IL-38 still performs combat missions for the Russian Army.
But it is the Soviet bombers, especially the Tu-22M (NATO’s Backfire classification), which are still a serious threat to NATO naval forces, that have been feared most by the praised US carriers.
The Tu-22M3 has a cruising speed of 900 kilometres per hour, a top speed of 2,300 kilometres per hour, a ceiling of over 13,000 kilometres and a range of about 6,500 kilometres. The suspension units and internal armament compartment can carry up to 24 tonnes of ammunition.
In the Soviet Union, such a bomber was assigned the role of the main strike force against surface targets of the US Navy. According to the tactical mission in the attack on the U.S. carrier force in the event of an armed conflict between the countries, had to participate up to 100 Tu-22M3 and Tu-16, and up to 80 could be equipped with missiles, including with nuclear warheads, the remaining 20 would be false targets.
“Thanks to the upgrade, the Tu-22M3s have gained the ability to refuel in the air, increasing their range. The bombers received a new set of missiles – including X-101, X-55 and X-32. A hypersonic Kh-47M2 Kynzhal missile is in development”, – the US experts write.
Another remarkable example of Soviet design thinking was and remains the Su-24, an all-weather bomber and interceptor, some modifications serving as a spy, which is easily recognized by the variable sweep wing and cockpit with transverse arrangement of seats.
“With a much shorter range and ceiling compared to the larger Tu (2,900 kilometres and 11,000 meters) Su-24 is designed more for flights in the coastal zone. Nine suspension points on the wings and under the fuselage can carry more than 7.7 tonnes of ammunition,” states Business Insider. “For maritime missions, the Su-24 could carry three supersonic X-31 anti-ship missiles, which could also capture such targets as enemy radar installations.”
These formidable machines, still drive NATO ships around the seas, forcing their crews to submit resignation reports en masse, just after they dry their trousers after experiencing fear.
“In April 2014, the Su-24 flew within 900 metres and 150 metres of the USS Donald Cook destroyer in international waters in the Black Sea. A year later, two Su-24s flew just 500 metres and 60 metres from the USS Ross in the same area,” American journalists recalled with horror. “In 2016, two Su-24s again circled the Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, practising a strike demonstration. Later distributed video footage clearly showed the planes flying just thirty metres over the destroyer. In 2017 and 2018, Su-24s alerted ships of the British, Belgian and Dutch navies.”