Military Review

Modernization of the "old" strategic bombers

Despite the significant progress of recent decades, the main strategic technique aviation Russia and the United States are still aircraft of relatively old models. For various reasons, Tu-95MS and B-52H aircraft are still quite old, but still meeting the requirements. Various measures are taken to preserve this equipment and extend the life of its operation. First of all, machine repairs are regularly carried out, including the installation of one or another new equipment. All this allows you to save equipment in the ranks, as well as improve its performance characteristics.

The serial construction of Tu-95MS bombers started in the early eighties and lasted for 11 years. Thus, the oldest aircraft of this type are no more than 35 years old, and the machines of the latest series are only a quarter of a century old. The American B-52H bombers are significantly older than Russian aircraft. The last car of this type was built in 1962 year, after which the release of such technology stopped. All remaining in the ranks of the B-52H were released no later than the beginning of the sixties - by now the age of even the newest bombers has exceeded half a century.

Modernization of the Tu-95MS

The relatively small age of the Tu-95MS bombers remaining in the ranks allows their exploitation to continue. At the same time, the equipment needs regular repairs and other maintenance. In addition, due to the emergence of new radio-electronic systems and weapons, it is necessary to modernize the aircraft in order to improve their basic characteristics. For six decades of its service, the Tu-95 bomber underwent a significant number of upgrades, which eventually led to the emergence of modern machines with the letters "MS". A new project is being implemented to update the existing technology, designed to improve its performance.

Tu-95MS Samara. Photo of Wikimedia Commons

In 2009, the Ministry of Defense launched the project with the symbol Tu-95MSM. Its goal is to update a number of combatant submarines with the use of new equipment, which will extend the life of the equipment, as well as ensure its compatibility with modern and advanced weapons. According to available data, the “MSM” project involves the repair and restoration of some units of aircraft, while simultaneously replacing others.

According to the reports of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation Industry, the Tu-95MSM aircraft being repaired and upgraded must retain the airframe and some other units corresponding to the basic Tu-95MS project. At the same time, part of the existing electronic equipment will be removed from them, which will be replaced by new devices. Due to the modernization of on-board electronics, it is planned to improve the main characteristics of the aiming and navigation complex, as well as introduce new models into the nomenclature of the weapons used.

To improve flight performance, it is proposed to equip upgraded aircraft with upgraded NK-12MPM turboprop engines, which are distinguished by certain characteristics. In addition, Tu-95MSM should receive new propellers AB-60Т. Such an update of the power plant implies an increase in some parameters, first of all, efficiency, which, in turn, allows to improve range performance, combat radius, etc.

Significant changes in the new project is exposed to electronic equipment. The existing Tu-95MS carry the Obzor-MS radar. In the new project it is proposed to change it on the Novella-HB1.021 radar, which is distinguished by higher characteristics. Also, aircraft should receive a new information display system such as SOI-021. Provision is made for the use of a modernized onboard Meteor-HM2 defense complex.

One of the main goals of the modernization project is to equip existing strategic bombers with the latest weapons. In recent years, the domestic industry has completed work on some projects of air-based cruise missiles, which allows for the rearmament of missile carriers.

Tu-95MS in flight. Photo author

During the current modernization of the Tu-95MSM bombers get the opportunity to carry and use the X-101 and X-102 cruise missiles. These products are classified as strategic airborne cruise missiles. According to reports, the X-101 missile is equipped with a conventional warhead, while the X-102 carries a special warhead. Both missiles with a launch weight of no more than 2400 kg can fly up to 5,5 thousand km with a cruising speed of the order of 200 m / s. There is the possibility of attacking stationary and moving targets. In the design of the airframe of both missiles used technology reduce visibility.

The Tu-95MSM project involves equipping the bomber with eight holders for the transport of X-101 / 102 missiles. To this end, the fuselage cargo compartment is being finalized due to the increased length of the missiles, and four new holders appear under the wing. After such an upgrade, a strategic bomber can carry up to eight missiles with a conventional or special combat unit. A new sighting and navigation system installed on equipment during modernization is fully compatible with promising missiles and performs all the necessary operations when they are used.

According to reports, only the Tu-95MS-16 modification bombers will be able to undergo modernization under the MSM project. These aircraft have a number of characteristics that are used in the course of modernization. It was reported that at the disposal of Russian long-range aviation there are about 35 aircraft of this version. Other front-end Tu-95MS are related to the modification "MC-6", which for several reasons is not suitable for modernization under the new project. Thus, the total number of upgraded missile carriers will not exceed several dozen, and not all combat vehicles will be upgraded.

Previously, there were reports that the modernization of technology will be carried out in several stages. The first stage, the implementation of which began in the 2014 year, involves updating the power plant and some elements of the complex of electronic equipment. At the same time, the development and testing of some pieces of equipment that will be used in the next stages of aircraft upgrades are continuing. It will take several years to complete all the required work.

Tu-95MS, upgraded, during the rehearsal for the Victory Parade, April 2016. Photo

Repair and modernization of equipment currently being implemented will allow solving several main tasks. With the help of new engines and other equipment, a certain increase in performance will be achieved. Sighting and navigation system based on the latest equipment will provide an opportunity to use modern types of weapons. Finally, a general update of the equipment will extend its service life. It is expected that the strategic bombers Tu-95MS will remain in service until the forties.

Repair and partial modernization of production aircraft operated by long-range aircraft began in 2014. The first results of these works appeared in 2015, when the enterprises of TANTK them. Beriev (Taganrog) and Aviakor (Samara) began to equip bombers with equipment for the use of advanced cruise missiles. In November last year, the first aircraft with a new composition of equipment was handed over to the customer. Work continues, in the foreseeable future, new equipment will receive a significant number of other aircraft.

In mid-July, it was announced that by the end of the year, the Ministry of Defense would receive seven upgraded bombers capable of carrying new weapons. The next batch of several aircraft will be upgraded next year. The required update of the entire fleet of equipment suitable for upgrading may take several years.

Successful completion of the current project will have positive consequences for domestic long-range aviation. The existing equipment will undergo repairs, which will allow it to continue its operation for a long time, as well as receive new weapons, which will increase combat effectiveness. Thus, the updated strategic bomber-rocket-carriers Tu-95MSM will remain in service for the next several decades with the preservation of the required combat potential. In the future, the Tu-95MS aircraft should be replaced by the advanced aviation complex of the long-range aviation PAK DA. It is obvious that for some time Tu-95MS, Tu-95MSM and PAK DA will be operated in parallel. This means that, despite their age, the existing aircraft still have fairly large prospects and must remain in service, timely passing the necessary maintenance and updating.

Upgrading B-52H

For various reasons, the leadership of the United States decided to complete the construction of Boeing B-52 bombers in the early sixties. The production of such equipment lasted for ten years, the result of which was the release of almost seven and a half hundred aircraft. The construction of the last aircraft in the B-52H modification was completed in the autumn of the year 1962. To date, fewer 70 machines remain in the ranks, as well as a number of backup aircraft. All of these bombers over the past decades have repeatedly undergone this or that modernization.

B-52H and use them weapons. Photo

The state of the B-52H front-line bombers allows them to continue operating, however, the equipment needs regular repairs that prolong the life of various units and affect the service life of the aircraft accordingly. Through constant repairs and modernization, the Pentagon plans to ensure the combat effectiveness of the existing bombers before the sixties. Current plans, among other things, involve the implementation of several aircraft modernization programs using new equipment that improves performance.

At the end of April 2014, a solemn ceremony was held at the Tinker airbase (pc. Oklahoma) to hand over to the air force the first aircraft that passed the new test phase. For several previous months, the bomber was being repaired, during which it received the CONECT communication system. The new communications complex allows individual aircraft to exchange data with other bombers and command posts. In addition, the opportunity to change the flight mission in flight. For such procedures, satellite communications are now used, which allows them to be performed without the need to return to the aerodrome. The CONECT complex was planned to be installed on the 76 of the existing B-52H.

In June last year, Pratt & Whitney, an aviation power plant company, revealed its plans for the development of the B-52H bombers. Engine specialists are developing new power plant options for existing bombers. It was planned to develop several options for modernizing aircraft with an increase in performance, implying the replacement of existing TF33 engines with new products. The modernization of engines was to become one of the ways to achieve the required service life of the equipment.

Any proposals for the replacement of engines have not yet received official approval. In addition, the main features of the proposed projects remain unknown. In particular, a reduction in the number of engines due to the increase in power of new ones is not excluded. Recall that the B-52H is equipped with eight turbojet engines mounted on pylons under the wing. Over the past few decades, aircraft modernization projects have been repeatedly proposed, reducing the number of engines to four. However, all such proposals have not been brought to practical implementation. All combat bombers are still equipped with eight engines TF33 family.

Modernization of the "old" strategic bombers
Pratt & Whitney TF33 engine. Photo Wikimedia Commons

In February, 2016, the company Boeing received a contract of the Ministry of Defense of the United States to update part of the electronic equipment of aircraft B-52H. The military is no longer satisfied with the characteristics of the Northrop Grumman AN / APQ-166 radar, which was developed about three decades ago. In particular, there are complaints regarding insufficient performance, the use of mechanical scanning, etc. Over the next few years, the contracting company will have to find the developer of the required system, and then prepare the modernization of the equipment available to the troops. The radar replacement project is scheduled for completion by 2021. The total cost of the program is estimated at 491 million.

According to existing plans, in 2017, the industry must submit technical proposals, which will be considered by the customer. After that, the stage of production and testing of prototypes starts. Its completion is scheduled for 2019 the year when the customer chooses the winner of the program. After that, mass production of promising radars will begin with their subsequent installation on upgraded aircraft. Such an update of the technology should be completed at the beginning of the next decade and will lead to a noticeable increase in tactical and technical characteristics of the bombers.

From time to time, there are reports of a planned expansion of the range of weapons suitable for use by B-52H missile-carrying bombers. It is reported that existing types weapons undergo some kind of modernization, as well as the development of new designs. Such work should also have a positive impact on the capabilities of technology.

One of the crew jobs B-52H. Photo

The current plans of the Pentagon involve the repair and upgrading of strategic bombers Boeing B-52H in order to continue their operation for a long time. It is required to maintain the combat capability of the available equipment, at least until the thirties. Operation of the latest machines of this type should be completed only in the sixties, when some planes will celebrate the centenary anniversary. It is assumed that timely repairs and upgrades will help to achieve unique indicators of the duration of service.


Despite the appearance of more advanced technology with enhanced characteristics, strategic bombers of relatively old models still remain in the long-range aviation of the leading countries of the world. The characteristics of this technique meet the requirements, which allows it to continue its operation. With the manifestation of the need to improve the performance of the military launch another modernization project. In addition, repairs are regularly carried out to continue the operation of equipment.

The implementation of current plans to upgrade the Russian strategic missile-carrier bombers Tu-95MS for the MSM project will allow keeping such equipment in service at least until the 1940s. In this case, it will be possible to improve some characteristics of the aircraft, as well as give them new weapons with improved capabilities. Due to this, domestic long-range aviation will retain the required potential until the appearance of a completely new technology developed within the framework of the PAK DA project.

Similar processes are observed in the development of US long-range aviation. The development of the project of a promising bomber has already been launched, but before its appearance the military will have to operate the existing equipment. One of the main long-range aircraft in this case is the B-52H. By restoring worn-out units and installing new equipment, such equipment is supposed to be kept in service, at least until mid-century. In the future, it is planned to begin construction of new aircraft, which will complement, and then replace the existing equipment.

The development of two different strategic bombers serving in Russia and the USA pursues the same goals, and also proceeds along similar paths. Upgrading equipment continues, which should positively affect the various features of its operation. Time will show whether this trend will continue in the future and what the future development of the Tu-95MS and B-52H will be.

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  1. svp67
    svp67 27 July 2016 07: 38
    Of course, it’s good that we don’t throw away what we have, but the old equipment also has a resource limit that you want, not want, but it’s finite. So, when upgrading, do not forget about creating something new.
    1. avg avg
      avg avg 27 July 2016 10: 58
      Thanks for the reminder, Captain Evidence. Today I remind the leadership of the RF Ministry of Defense and the military-industrial complex about the inadmissibility of forgetting the development of the new, against the background of modernization of the old.
      Greetings, your Shoigu S.
    2. fennekRUS
      fennekRUS 31 July 2016 08: 40
      Quote: svp67
      the limit of the resource that you want, not want, but is finite.

      Of course, it’s finite, but for some reason the hackneyed phrase “You know how to build earlier! For centuries!” That "Bear", that "Stratospheric Fortress", in fact, there is nothing to replace.
      it seems to me that modern designers should learn how to create such "long-livers"
  2. berezin1987
    berezin1987 27 July 2016 07: 55
    I hope that in a few years the production of the Tu-160М2 with updated avionics and more efficient engines will begin. The White Swan is the pinnacle of the development of strategic bombers. Tu-95MSM - a temporary solution until the appearance of PAK YES. They will still serve 15-20 years, and then they will retire. The main disadvantages of the Tu-95, I see the need for suspension of rockets outside the fuselage due to too short a bomb, the lack of a bailout system for the crew, as well as not very successful engines.
    1. FID
      FID 27 July 2016 08: 06
      Quote: berezin1987
      The main disadvantages of the Tu-95, I see the need for suspension of rockets outside the fuselage due to too short a bomb bay, the lack of a bailout system for the crew, as well as not very successful engines.

      How to eject the crew located in the fuselage ??? And "not very successful engines" provide a speed commensurate with the speed of one-size jet aircraft and a range of under 11 km ...
      1. berezin1987
        berezin1987 27 July 2016 09: 46
        Four ejection seats are installed in the Tu-160, and they are also in the long-range Tu-22М3 bomber. The Tu-160 range is slightly higher, and you don’t need to talk about speed. The Tu-95 has the only advantage - a long standby time in the air. For the 50's / 60's, it was a good plane, but not these days.
        1. bober1982
          bober1982 27 July 2016 10: 01
          Tu-95 and Tu-95ms are completely different machines, therefore it’s not correct to cite the 50-60s as an example.
          You forgot to mention such important advantages of the Tu-95ms as reliability, profitability. The crew rescue system on the plane is quite reliable, the presence of a catapult for such an aircraft is unlikely to increase the survivability of the crew in an emergency.
          1. Alexey RA
            Alexey RA 27 July 2016 16: 20
            Quote: bober1982
            Tu-95 and Tu-95ms are completely different machines, therefore it’s not correct to cite the 50-60s as an example.

            Well, still not completely differentbut the genealogy of the Tu-95MS is quite ... meandering: dad is the long-range aircraft of the Tu-142MS PLO, grandfather is the Tu-95RC RC. smile
            So the EMS is a rather distant relative of the Tu-95.
            1. bober1982
              bober1982 28 July 2016 20: 54
              Alexey RA: I agree, although I forgot to mention the Tu-95 bomber.
              This plane was made at our Kuibyshev plant, and therefore I have a special relationship with Tu-95 (ms) - my father (now deceased) spent his whole life working at this plant.
          2. Aqela
            Aqela 30 July 2016 15: 25
            It should be noted that the IL-10M and Su-25 aircraft are significantly different, however, the solution of the same problems is claimed. fool Hence - the desire to compare machines that must solve the same problems - this is quite a legitimate thing. request You do not find a problem in comparing the Tu-95 and the Boeing B-52? Then what lyady grumble against juxtaposing strategic bombers of the same general designer, but of different generations? fool Nobody here is trying to compare the T-22M and Tu-160, then your objections could be accepted ... request
            I got the impression that the claimed long lifespan of heavy strategic bombers has a reason that they are now considered simply as a platform for weapons systems. Well, like, "will raise the bonbs higher - it's okay!" good Like a launch vehicle, a kind of "lift into space".
            After the collapse with the "supersonic" B-1B and "invisible" B-2, it is obvious that getting a significant breakthrough in the performance characteristics of "strategists" is insanely expensive and extremely difficult ...
            I will not be nearly surprised if a system of unmanned bombers, sort of overgrown raptors, is being developed ...
          3. Koshak
            Koshak 8 October 2016 18: 06
            Quote: bober1982
            Tu-95 and Tu-95ms are completely different machines, therefore it’s not correct to cite the 50-60s as an example.

            And why are they so "ABSOLUTELY different"? The only difference is in the "stuffing". The glider and engines, with minor modifications, remain the same.
      2. clidon
        clidon 27 July 2016 20: 46
        How to catapult the crew located in the fuselage ???

        How will the crew eject on the older B-52?
    2. Koshak
      Koshak 8 October 2016 17: 55
      Quote: berezin1987
      ... and also not very successful engines.

      But why are unsuccessful engines for you? The most reliable, powerful, economical of all existing and existing theater. They have no analogues.
  3. avg-mgn
    avg-mgn 27 July 2016 08: 19
    Quote: svp67
    Of course, it’s good that we don’t throw away what we have, but the old equipment also has a resource limit that you want, not want, but it’s finite. So, when upgrading, do not forget about creating something new.

    In Russia, research is ongoing on the development of a new promising long-range combat aircraft using Stealth technologies. The promising complex is intended to replace the missile carriers, long-range and strategic bombers that are in service with the Russian Air Force.
    This was announced by the commander of the Long (Strategic) Aviation (DA) of the Air Force of Russia, Major General Anatoly Zhikharev.
    “Now we are carrying out and developing research work on a new promising complex DA, which will replace the Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 aircraft and should immediately replace both long-range and strategic bombers and missile carriers,” Zhikharev said. - There will already be fully implemented the stealth system, or, as they like to call it, "Stealth". "
  4. VohaAhov
    VohaAhov 27 July 2016 09: 26
    The author is slightly mistaken himself. And misleads the rest of the forum users. All eight missiles of a new type (X-101 and 102) are suspended on pylons under the wings, because they do not fit into the compartment under the fuselage.
    1. berezin1987
      berezin1987 27 July 2016 09: 51
      And I'm talking about what, but they gave me minuses. The aircraft of the beginning of the 50's cannot be made modern. It is suitable only for duty on its territory under the guise of air defense and fighter aircraft. Tu-160 also has elements of stealth technology in the form of RPM coating and is able to evade enemy fighters at 2M speed. The British Eurofighters weren’t able to intercept the carcass, because they are unable to go on afterburner for a long time, and Tu-160 can go on afterburner for several hours.
      1. bober1982
        bober1982 27 July 2016 10: 29
        It is suitable only for duty on its territory under the guise of air defense ....
        You tell the crew of the Tu-95ms, amuse them.
        1. Aqela
          Aqela 30 July 2016 15: 31
          Yeah. I think that they are already peeing with boiling water with fun when their NATO fighters fly around on flights "to dalnyak".
          In response to your proposal to amuse the pilots with stories about the limited capabilities of the old Tu-95 (which TK was still signed by Comrade Stalin if you are not aware), I ask you to make a statement about what real means of protection they have against a possible attack by an interceptor fighter.
        2. Zaurbek
          Zaurbek 31 July 2016 08: 19
          With the advent of new CDs, it may not be necessary to break through the enemy defenses. enough to be on duty under the guise of air defense?
  5. Runoway
    Runoway 27 July 2016 10: 38
    Still noise reduced !!!! How flights begin you can hang yourself!
    1. bober1982
      bober1982 27 July 2016 11: 00
      Is the Tu-95ms noisy? Here, over the Chelyabinsk Su-24 cut, it yes - impresses the local inhabitants.
      1. Alex_59
        Alex_59 27 July 2016 15: 44
        Quote: bober1982
        Here they cut over the Chelyabinsk Su-24, yes, it impresses the local inhabitants.

        What's this. That's when we have a pair of MiG-31 in Perm take off at night with a fast and furious ... laughing
        As in Anisimov's song: "the citizens will reproach us for the roar ..."

        Quote: Runoway
        How flights begin you can hang yourself!

        I like this. Such a bass is low frequency. It is solid. True, I only heard An-22, but the engines are the same.
        1. Aqela
          Aqela 30 July 2016 15: 33
          I heard them recently when both Tu-95 and Tu-160 flew over Volgograd. Both are handsome. And at the 95th, motors roar already on infrasound - the windows in the windows resonate ... good The 160th will be quieter ...
      2. Alex_Rarog
        Alex_Rarog 27 July 2016 20: 41
        Nefiga is not impressive! I live in Chelyabinsk and normal! Left in Krasnodar, the local Mi-8 more infuriated flying over the house! And the bear is really noisy over about ... the balts shrink when the bears fly!
    2. Bayonet
      Bayonet 27 July 2016 11: 11
      Quote: Runoway
      Still noise reduced !!!!

      Growls notably! That is why they called "partners" a bear! Its growl is detected even by submarine sonar systems located at depth. At least that's what they say. yes
      1. win
        win 29 July 2016 15: 33
        Still noise reduced !!!!

        Tu-95 engines have two 5,6-meter-diameter propellers that rotate in opposite directions, so fast that their end parts constantly overcome the sound barrier when the rotation speed changes, increases or slows down, creating unprecedented noise.
        By car put a silencer. Passenger aircraft also take measures to reduce noise. But this reduces the engine power.
        The main thing for the military is not to lose a "gram" of power and speed ...
      2. The comment was deleted.
  6. vasilev
    vasilev 27 July 2016 12: 20
    My uncle flew the Tu-95, was an officer of the naval aviation, until in the early 90s his squadron was disbanded and sent into retirement. They called these aircraft "elephants".
  7. Old26
    Old26 27 July 2016 17: 17
    Quote: berezin1987
    Tu-160 can go on afterburner for several hours.

    Truth? Supersound or afterburner?
  8. fa2998
    fa2998 27 July 2016 20: 46
    Quote: berezin1987
    as well as not very successful engines.

    Tupolev didn’t work fools. Turbo-propeller engines are economical. And the power was brought up, that so far they are record! The speed and range for a propeller aircraft are amazing!
    Tu-95 is one of the favorite aircraft. That would be to redesign it. Introduce composites into the structure, modernize engines, instead of sickle propellers. I think you can get rid of the aft pressurized cabin, and the firing installations are already superfluous (the time of the Sabers has passed) and the crew members are reduced up to four (the Tu-160s are controlled). Completely rework the electronics. I think it will be possible to put catapults. And it will fly for another 100 years. hi
    1. mr.redpartizan
      mr.redpartizan 27 July 2016 21: 58
      You propose to make the plane from scratch, starting from the construction of the level of the 50s. The Tu-95 fulfilled its duty, providing us with the opportunity to reach the United States before the appearance of massive ICBMs in service with us. The Tu-160M2 will be a worthy replacement for the Tu-95MS, becoming the main striking force of the air component of the nuclear triad.
      1. Aqela
        Aqela 30 July 2016 15: 38
        I partially disagree with you, dear mr.redpartizan. One gets the impression that the Tu-95 will still be able to solve problems where patrol is not required for a shock breakthrough.
  9. Old26
    Old26 27 July 2016 21: 52
    Quote: berezin1987
    Tu-95MSM - a temporary solution until the appearance of PAK DA.

    There is nothing more permanent than temporary. Especially if PAK DA will be developed at the same pace as PAK FA

    Quote: fa2998
    I wish we could redesign it. Introduce composites into the structure, modernize engines instead of sickle screws. I think you can get rid of the aft pressurized cabin, and the firing installations are already superfluous (the Sabers' time has passed) and the crew members can be reduced to four (the Tu-160 are controlled) .Completely rework the electronics. I think it will be possible to put catapults. And it will fly for another 100 years.

    Maybe this will be done if the PAK YES "hangs" or will be developed as long as the PAK FA. And the car is really unique. It would seem that in the 60s, with the development of supersonic speeds and the appearance of such projects as the M-50 and T-4, they should have become a thing of the past, but both projects survived ...
  10. Runoway
    Runoway 28 July 2016 07: 21
    Quote: Alex_59

    I like this. Such a bass is low frequency. It is solid. True, I only heard An-22, but the engines are the same.

    When in the middle of the night, as if your neighbor flies over your ear with a perforator (if not plastic, then the windows rattle)? And with a wave along with it they begin to yell alarms in the entire area, within 3-5 minutes (who wakes up) they turn off, a minute silence sets in and then ...... NEXT BEAR !!!
    I heard about the noise in Chelyabinsk, but right now we have Avidarts, that flies a lot, and they train at the refineries (funny guys however) I would not say that the Su-24s are noisy! But those who live in private houses closer to the airfield complain more about TU-22, when that engine warms up
  11. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 1 August 2016 17: 00
    Tu-95 can be completely replaced by a bomber based on the IL-96. And the resource is longer and the indicators of range and efficiency and ergonomics will be better.
  12. 27 May 2019 19: 28
    -Why TU-95 will not replace the engines on the NK-93 because they have a thrust of 3 tons more, they are quieter and more economical ??? And in terms of altitude, because of bonding, they work out better.