Strategic bomber: completely outdated and useless

Strategic bomber: completely outdated and useless

Today we will talk about strategic bombers. In general, there are only three countries left in the world that own this species. weapons: Russia, USA and China. The rest somehow don’t even think about getting one, it’s not even clear why. More countries have aircraft carriers, but an aircraft carrier, whatever one may say, is more expensive, and maintaining and repairing it is quite a task. Proven by “Admiral Kuznetsov” and “Charles de Gaulle”.

The strategic bomber is the oldest type of this weapon, it appeared on the very day when the B-29, which did not yet know that it was strategic, dropped a bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945.

The mission of the strategic bomber was very simple: to climb to a height inaccessible to fighters and deliver an atomic bomb to the enemy. It is possible that only one at first.

The strategy was quite normal, because the same year 1945 showed that not every Focke-Wulf will catch up with B-10s flying at an altitude of more than 000 meters at a speed of about 500 km/h. We can say that these were first generation strategic bombers.

In general, at that time, aircraft that were difficult to oppose, because anti-aircraft missiles had not yet been mastered, and piston aircraft and anti-aircraft guns were not very effective. And all these “Fortresses” and “Liberators” calmly destroyed entire cities in Germany and Japan, even with ordinary high-explosive and incendiary bombs. Well, when the nuclear ones came into play...

And only the advent of jet aircraft grounded the first strategists a little. Well, “a little”, the same B-29 Soviet MiGs dropped more than enough to the ground.

Thus, the prerequisites were created for the creation of the second generation of strategic bombers. They became reactive (almost all of them), flew further, rose higher, and carried more load. All these 3M, M-50, V-58, V-52, Tu-16, Tu-95.

However, first there appeared those who could catch up and destroy these super-bomb carriers (the American Convair F-102 Delta Dagger and the Soviet MiG-21), and then anti-aircraft missile systems like our S-75, which generally removed bombers from the agenda as the main weapon of destruction enemy.

And roughly speaking, due to inertia, the B-1, B-2, Xian H-6 (Tu-16) and Tu-160 appeared, which actually do not solve anything and cannot solve anything. Simply because missiles have appeared that can shoot down a plane at any altitude and planes that carry long-range missiles that can do the same without climbing to super altitudes.

What about bombers? But they (the same Tu-95 and B-52) have not changed at all since the 50s of the last century and they have not developed any new techniques, except for cruise missiles. But cruise missiles are not a panacea for all problems.

As for the armament of strategic bombers, the situation with their armament is very simple.


Good old free-falling bombs, high-explosive, concrete-piercing, nuclear. Weapons that can be used against countries that do not have normal air defense (such as ISIS in Syria) or the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 80s. Or against countries whose air defenses have been destroyed by other types and branches of the military. That is, not at the first stage of the war.

Cruise missiles.

This is, of course, a more modern weapon, but also not imbalanced. Modern air defense systems can easily cope with subsonic cruise missiles, and some can handle supersonic ones. And hypersonic ones, alas, do not have the required flight range so that they can be used from strategic bombers.

Let's try to demolish the USA?

Here's the map. Very small, because the task requires just that. Of course, it is very difficult to find Engels there. As well as an airfield in the Murmansk region, from which strategists can operate. And a similar one in the Far East. But they exist.

And now we have a task: to shoot at targets in the USA. It doesn't matter what it will be, Washington or Miami. What is most important when performing such a task? That's right, go to missile launch range and carry out this launch. And this must be done in such a way that the enemy has as little time as possible to react, right?

Is this even possible?

Even taking into account the range of our most terrible missiles, that is, 6 km, they will still have to be launched from certain points on the globe. Which, alas, is quite large in terms of size.

It is clear that we are not talking about Europe. There our planes will be greeted, as they say, with open arms, because Europe is NATO. We are not interested in the south either; they will meet us there in the same way as over Europe. And only the north and east will remain.

The East is a very delicate matter. If the east is the Primorsky Territory, then, alas, Japan is nearby. Plus, one should not discount American floating airfields-aircraft carriers, which will naturally be moved to positions in the Pacific Ocean.

The north is now also complicated in this regard. Yes, launching from somewhere in the Spitsbergen area means there is a very high probability of arrival. Yes, Canada’s air defense will become the first shield there, NORAD works there, but there are chances. Another question is: are there any chances of flying to Spitsbergen? Finland, as it were, is now a NATO member, and American planes will soon be stationed at its airfields, which will be able to conduct surveillance from the country’s airspace and more. Well, Sweden is next. So access to the Spitsbergen area is doubtful.

An attack from the Far East doesn’t look very good either. The planes will need to go to the Aleutian Islands, but who will allow them to go there?

The only place from which you can safely launch missiles is from the area of ​​the Laptev or Sannikov Straits. But it’s almost 2 km to fly there from airfields in Kamchatka, and even more from the Primorsky Territory. So we’re not even talking about the surprise factor.

And we are not talking about the surprise factor at all.

A modern satellite constellation is able to track almost around the clock all airfields on which a strategic aviation, fortunately, we don’t have that many of them. In addition to the main base in Engels, you can use airfields in Belaya (Irkutsk region), Knevichi (Vladivostok), Severny (Ivanovo), Mozdok, Olenya, Dyagilevo (Ryazan), Kamenny Brook (Sovetskaya Gavan), Ukrainka (Amur region), Shaikovka (Kaluga region). Perhaps some VTA airfields would be suitable.

In general, it is not a big task to monitor literally a dozen airfields for the movement of Tu-95 and Tu-160. Today, the Ukrainians and their assistants are doing a good job of this; at least half an hour after the Tu-95 takes off in Engels, half of Ukraine is already on the edge of their seats, waiting for the arrivals.

Detecting the takeoff of strategic bombers is easy. It is not very difficult to neutralize their departure with the help of interceptor fighters over the sea. Given the level of development of American tracking equipment, satellites, AWACS aircraft, this is indeed possible. Even launching missiles from one’s territory, from one’s airspace, you understand, is not a solution. A rocket can fly into its airspace from anywhere.

And, by and large, a bomber is a very vulnerable thing. Yes, it has electronic warfare systems, it has an on-board defense system, but... But a squadron of fighters will make a chop out of any strategist, either ours or the American one. No chance.

But it's easier for Americans. With their number of allies in the world, they can easily approach our borders and attack from there if they need to. The range of the same AGM-158B JASSM-ER of 1000 km is quite enough to fire a package of missiles at Moscow from a position above Helsinki.

In general, the only relatively safe position for Russian strategists is the regions of the Far North above the Northern Sea Route. There is no one there to meet them in terms of enemy aviation; the air defense of the USA and Canada will have a headache. But alas, it will be met by both air defense systems and aviation, which can quite cope with the task of intercepting subsonic cruise missiles.

Doubts arise that we will be able to use strategic aviation normally, given that Russia is practically surrounded, if not by NATO countries, then by their sympathizers.

Then what is the value of these huge aircraft?

Well, at least in the fact that the massive takeoff of Tu-95 and Tu-160 can simply distract the enemy’s attention from leaving the submarine bases. But now they will be able to come closer and launch their greetings to America from under the water. And this scenario looks more likely, to be honest.

So the actual cessation of work on the PAK DA project is perhaps due to understanding? After all, for the Americans, with their NGB (Next-Generation Bomber) project, everything is also going neither shaky nor slow. More precisely, from 2018, when the plane was supposed to go into production, everything was moved right up to 2030. With postponements, clarifications and improvements. And the Chinese have been fighting for the Xian H-20 for more than 20 years now and without much results. Although, perhaps, a bomber with a flight range of 8 km without refueling would probably be very useful to the Chinese.

And by 2023, such an interesting situation had developed: all three countries that have strategic bombers in service continue to operate old aircraft, slowly tinkering with projects of the future.

Well, if you remember the already distant year of 2012, when our destroyer Rogozin clashed with the then head of the General Staff Makarov precisely on the topic of strategists. And they were arguing about PAK DA, the creation of which doubts began to arise even then.

Rogozin (I didn’t think I would quote him, really!) then said: “Look at the level of development of air defense and missile defense: all these planes will not fly anywhere. Neither ours to them, nor theirs to us. We need to think about completely non-trivial things.”

In general, the then Deputy Prime Minister condemned Russian long-range aviation as unnecessary. But Rogozin sentenced a lot of things during his career, and not all in words. But this time it turned out that there was something to think about.

At least, about PAK DA, or more precisely, about who said what about him, it’s very funny to read today. Igor Korotchenko, for example, has repeatedly stated that “Russia is quite capable of creating a new bomber before 2025.” Some work is underway, ejection seats were tested (but such equipment is generally needed and can be useful in other projects), engines... But without any sparkle or assault.

You can understand. And admit that the time of strategic bombers has passed, and they, as a class of weapons, simply must leave the scene.

70 years ago, when this class appeared, the very concept of warfare was different. And yes, a long-range bomber was something very dangerous, and having received atomic bombs in its compartments, it personified the threat of a nuclear strike.

But after several decades, the significance of these beautiful and powerful aircraft is gradually fading away. And today, perhaps, strategists have no chance of reaching the point of confidently launching missiles towards the enemy simply because the enemy will be aware of the takeoff of the bombers in a maximum of 10 minutes and will be able to take action.

Airplanes, as the war in Syria and the Northern Military District have shown, are very easy targets for cheap guided weapon systems like drones-kamikaze. And in many ways they are inferior to their colleagues in the nuclear triad of any country.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles on the ground are vulnerable only during positioning and launch. A very short period of time, plus being at a great distance from the enemy. And when warheads begin to leave their trajectory at hypersonic speeds, heading towards targets, it is very difficult to intercept them.

Submarine missile cruisers in general today are the most inconspicuous and deadly weapons. Moving under a huge layer of water, which shelters boats even from the watchful eye of satellites, being hit by missiles from under the water is deadly and effective.

Airplanes are too visible and vulnerable. Alas, this is true. And the current role of such bombers is really to strike areas where there is no decent air defense and fighter aircraft, as was the case in Korea, Vietnam (in the first part of the war), Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

I have a hard time imagining B-52 veterans trying to get within striking distance of our borders. And if the B-1 and B-2 may still have some chances of success, one (B-1) due to speed, the second (B-2) due to stealth, then with the B-52 everything looks sadly.

True, the Tu-95 crawling in the skies will also become very easy prey. Yes, in peacetime, these planes, which are able to fly halfway around the world and become the heroes of reports in many countries, are simply beautiful in their power. But in the event of a conflict, alas, their fate will be very unenviable. The Tu-160 has a slightly better chance due to its supersonic speed, while the F-15 will have to try very hard to catch up with the “White Swan” (And in this pursuit I wouldn’t bet on the American). But 17 flying Tu-160s against 80 American B-1s and B-2s...

Speaking about the future of strategic bombers, it’s probably not worth conclusively condemning them to death and oblivion. They will definitely delight us with their power for 10-20 years. And perhaps they will even take part in some conflicts.

But instead of new aircraft, it would be worth building a certain number of missile submarines.
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  1. osp
    7 October 2023 01: 12
    Quote: bayard
    Quote: Sergey Sfyedu
    The Americans have the first one.

    Exactly . They are counting on launching Trident-2 from a dagger distance and along a flat trajectory. And also because their “Minuteman” is very problematically “combat ready”.

    So the French and British also have 8 SSBNs.
    Moreover, their characteristics are significantly higher than those of Ohio.
    Only in terms of the number of missile silos are they inferior to them, otherwise in terms of noise, equipment and reactor plants they are much better than the American ones.

    The British have combat patrol areas in the North Sea.
    A couple of submarines are always there. They may also remove a third one from the base who is on duty there.
    The French have combat patrol areas in the Mediterranean Sea and sometimes in the Bay of Biscay.
    The deployment tactics are the same.

    It’s just that Russia and the United States have other components of their strategic nuclear forces, mainly ICBMs.
    And for England and France, SSBNs have 100% nuclear potential.
    Therefore, huge priority has always been given to development there.

    The English "Vengrad" refused such a successful strategic submarine that at its base
    made MAPL "Astyut".
    The layout is actually almost the same, but without the missile compartment.
  2. 0
    7 October 2023 01: 18
    We have another problem: there are no shelters for planes.
  3. osp
    7 October 2023 01: 28
    Quote: futurohunter
    The couch buffoon has canceled another type of weapon. Thousands of fools are designing (and in different countries), and one armchair genius - one single armchair genius already knows that they are toiling around with bullshit. And something doesn’t occur to his brilliant head that some French people don’t make them, not because they don’t need to, but because only a strong country can do this. The French also sawed off their own strategy, but oh... they couldn’t do more than the bloated Mirage. But European airliners can only chip in together. Yes, and the non-strategic author, too, apparently does not know what the strategists wanted: Australia (the United States did not give it), India (they only gave the Tu-142), but Libya, Iraq and Egypt received them. Fools, probably

    Somehow I don’t understand your thoughts.
    1. The only country in Europe that had strategic aviation was Britain. There was a Vulcan bomber that served until the Falklands War. But it was already an ordinary bomber, since from the late 60s Britain had SSBNs with Pollaris missiles.
    2. France also relied on SSBNs, although there were great opportunities for creating strategic bombers and even supersonic ones. One SPS "Concorde" and its engines were worth something back then.
    3. India was sold not by strategists, but by anti-submarine Il-38/Tu-142 with simplified avionics.

    4. And to Australia... The Americans sold the F-111 to Australia and wrote it off not long ago.
    Its range was enormous; no one in that region had such aircraft at all.
  4. +1
    7 October 2023 02: 15
    Now our Romochka has become an aviation expert?! Is there anything on Earth where Skomorokhov would not be an expert?!
    1. 0
      7 October 2023 07: 13
      It’s like about Gavrila...."Gavrila was...", and then the breadth of thought... laughing
  5. 0
    7 October 2023 02: 26
    Our military-industrial complex needs a new strategist, like a new and expensive complex project for cutting the dough. He will be able to steal budget money for decades. The Su-57 will seem childish in comparison to this.
  6. +3
    7 October 2023 08: 39
    Naive and illiterate article. Well, if you don’t master the topic, don’t write.
  7. 0
    7 October 2023 10: 24
    You can understand. And admit that the time of strategic bombers has passed, and they, as a class of weapons, simply must leave the scene.

    Most likely, they will simply replace (in the very long term) chemical engines with nuclear ones - and turn into nuclear-powered aircraft like the Tu-119.
    And the rockets they carry can also become nuclear-powered rockets.
    And their automation and robotization will greatly increase - I’m not sure that they will have a crew at all; rather, they will be fully automatic aircraft, spending almost all their time in continuous flight, and not at the airfield or repairs.
    This option has one more advantage - the automatic aircraft is well suited for building a continuously flying radar on its basis.
  8. 0
    7 October 2023 10: 45
    You can also analyze the exit to the drop point for airborne transport personnel.... It turns out that it is impossible to use landing forces in a modern war... But, given that the ministry is ruled by party enthusiasts, this detail will not reach them soon
  9. 0
    7 October 2023 10: 56
    It is always easier to write off and destroy something than to build and create. Therefore, the strategists will still serve. We need to modernize and develop. In addition, if you knock out the enemy’s vaunted satellite constellation, everything can change. I think that such methods exist, but they will not be used in this conflict yet.
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  11. -1
    7 October 2023 12: 23
    If we can’t do it, then this bomber is not needed. Just like in the fable The Fox and the Grapes.
  12. +1
    7 October 2023 12: 39
    I am ready to disagree with the author.
    The fact is that strategic/bomber aviation still has one significant advantage over other aviation - to quickly and at once deliver a huge number of weapons within a gigantic radius around home airfields. This in itself is a big advantage.
    UAVs are not capable of carrying even 1/10 of the mass of a strategic bomber’s cargo. Missiles do not have the ability to actively maneuver, change trajectory, change targets, or even cancel an attack without self-destructing. In addition, at the acceleration stage, missiles have much more contrasting targets, and therefore missile defense/air defense are easier to detect and shoot down. The missile has no means of self-defense.

    But bomber aviation has really reached a dead end. Not because it is not relevant. But because to this day it is being developed from the paradigms of logic of the WWII period.
    When the plane must take on board more bombs and fly to the location of the primary and secondary targets. Drop bombs over them and try to get back. The development of air-launched missiles and glide bombs only removed the need to fly directly over the target. Now you can do it remotely. But the form factor and performance characteristics of the aircraft are still more prone to carpet bombing like in WWII.

    The fact is that the tasks of modern bombers can be roughly divided into 2 categories.
    1, also known as the MAIN task - classic bombing with free-falling or gliding bombs. Or an air-to-ground missile launch. And all this is either in the enemy’s air defense zone, which is suppressed by other army means, or there is no air defense at all. And if the arsenal allows, do not enter the air defense coverage area, but launch bombs/missiles not far beyond the air defense border.
    2, it is now only a SECONDARY task. Acting as a launch platform for launching long-range missiles while being FAR from the edge of the enemy air defense operating area.

    And so strategic aviation must reverse its priorities. On the contrary, the role of the launch platform should be PRIMARY. And the work of a “classic” bomber should be SECONDARY.
    The closest example of what a new generation bomber should be like is the Tu-160. And then, the cruising speed may be lower to simplify flights at low altitudes. But to enable the aircraft to reach a higher maximum speed and flight altitude, precisely for launching long-range missiles.
  13. +1
    7 October 2023 13: 20
    Yeah, let's give all the strategists to China. Will they be useful to him? Well, that's what the author says. He (China) will find a use for them...
    I haven’t read a stupider article on VO. Let's ruin everything, and then... It happened, it happened
  14. 0
    7 October 2023 13: 47
    ...Work on increasing the range of cruise and hypersonic missiles..., and this is quite possible..., that's all...
    In addition, the use of “strategists” for attacks on military and infrastructure facilities..., on areas where enemy troop reserves are concentrated in the deep (and in the “shallow” too)) rear areas...,
    can be very effective...

    ...Again, the carpet (“American”), demoralizing bombing of the largest military-industrial centers (cities) has not yet been canceled...

    It seems that one such strike on the "capital" of the Ukrainian Reich, or even better - on the Lemberg (with ordinary ton high-explosive bombs...) - would be enough for a sharp "wiserening" of the dill, and a quick cessation of hostilities..., more precisely, the resistance of the Ukrainian Wehrmacht ...

    You will say that Hitler’s Germany continued the war even after massive strikes by Allied heavy bomber aircraft..., yes, that’s true...

    But, there is one thing - but!

    There is no need to compare the Ukrops with the Krauts, and the Ukrovermah with the Wehrmacht...

    Hitler's soldiers would sit in the dungeons of Azovstal (Especially the SS men!) - until the last...

    And these, armed and trained in military affairs - Azov bastards, lovers of making fun of unarmed prisoners, bandits, sadists, in short, all sorts of - armed and trained criminal gangster bastard... - surrendered to an enemy clearly inferior in number - practically without resistance... almost immediately...
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  17. 0
    7 October 2023 18: 49
    You can understand. And admit that the time of strategic bombers has passed, and they, as a class of weapons, simply must leave the scene.

    The concept of application and, as a result, the Tu-95 and Tu-160 created for it are outdated. As for the PAK DA, it is being built according to a more modern concept of universal use. It is conceptually closer to the B-21, therefore giving our strategic aviation a chance to keep up with the times.
  18. 0
    7 October 2023 20: 26
    A rare adequate article on VO, thanks to the author. Strategists today are cheap UAVs with a long range. 3 Orions with an increase in its radius to 000-3 thousand km, each with 4 rocket with a miniature nuclear missile. This is the future.
  19. 0
    7 October 2023 20: 55
    Any strategic bomber is the “last answer” when there is no one to answer on land and at sea - there in the sky a burnt irradiated machine will deliver the “last greetings”
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  21. -1
    8 October 2023 21: 04
    And roughly speaking, due to inertia, the B-1, B-2, Xian H-6 (Tu-16) and Tu-160 appeared

    The author too rudely lumped together aircraft that were completely different in concept of use. B-2 is clear that it is characterized by low visibility. The Tu-16 is an outdated aircraft, but quite suitable for use in the absence of the enemy’s air defense at the required altitude.
    But with the V-1 and Tu-160 it’s more difficult. Despite the strong external similarity, the modern B-1 and Tu-160 are completely different aircraft for different application concepts. Initially, the Americans made the B-1A under the concept of high-altitude high-speed breakthrough. The Tu-160 was created under a similar concept.
    But at some point it dawned on the Americans that the situation had changed and the concept of a high-speed high-altitude breakthrough with modern air defense systems would not work. And they, while maintaining the appearance of the aircraft, converted it to a completely different concept - the concept of breaking through air defense at extremely low altitudes, for which the aircraft was significantly redesigned and re-equipped. Its speed decreased noticeably (although it remained supersonic), but it gained the ability to make long, stable flights at high speed at extremely low altitudes. As a result, with minor external changes, a completely different aircraft was obtained, called the B-1B, which is now in service.
  22. 0
    12 October 2023 11: 27
    It all depends on the performance characteristics of the aircraft and the missiles it carries. An aircraft with Stealth technology, for example, built, with the exception of the engine, from composite materials, capable of rising into the stratosphere and flying there for a relatively long time at supersonic speed, equipped with hypersonic missiles with a range of 6-7 thousand km, would be an extremely dangerous thing . And after all, everything that has been said is not at all from the realm of science fiction, these are completely solvable problems today. tasks. Look at the Mig-31 and the SU-57. To Dagger and Zircon. If these technologies are developed, it is quite possible to achieve success in building a bomber capable of striking with impunity.
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  25. 0
    17 November 2023 12: 49
    "due to inertia, the B-1, B-2, Xian H-6 (Tu-16) and Tu-160 appeared, which in fact no longer solve anything and cannot solve anything"

    This is such a good “inertia” that the b-70 raider was enough for 21+ years. obviously, it also “doesn’t decide anything”, since the stupid people decided to pour tens of billions into it.

    It’s gratifying that the author does not consider other options for conflicts, besides a full-scale war with the United States and NATO, at all - apparently we cannot have other opponents, because we will take the rest in 3 days if that.

    "instead of new aircraft, it would be worth building a certain number of missile submarines"

    yeah, exactly those same missile carriers that were so useful in the Northern Military District
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  27. 0
    2 January 2024 13: 10
    Again, the author has everything in a heap. B-1 and B-2 in one bottle, and these are aircraft of different classes. The B-1 is a long-range aviation, we have the Tu-22M3 close to it, but the B-2 is a strategist. Just like the B-52. But China does not have strategists; only 2 countries have them. China has its own long-range vehicle, the N-6, but this is a 5000 km ferry. This is not a strategist.
    In general, the argument that rangers and strategists are everything is completely debatable. It is the presence of this long arm that forces both sides to take this into account in their plans and build lines of defense. And even the deployment of aircraft carrier groups in the Pacific Ocean is not a panacea at all - Tu-22M3 can shoot at these targets, and behind them strategists will go to the line of launching cruise missiles.