Modernization of the "old" strategic bombers
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.
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.
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 Bmpd.livejournal.com
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.
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.
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.
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 Flightglobal.com
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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