Russian Tu-95MS bomber is able to fire Kh-101 Kh-102 Raduga nuclear-capable cruise missiles

According to information released by the Russian Press Agency TASS, a Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95MS strategic bomber launched missiles and conducted mid-air refueling during drills in Russia’s Far East.

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Russian Tu 95MS bomber is able to fire Kh 101 Kh 102 Raduga nuclear capable cruise missiles 925 001 Russian Air Force Tu-95MS bomber aircraft. (Picture source Vitaly Kuzmin)

The Tupolev Tu-95 dubbed Bear by NATO is a four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. The Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Aerospace Forces until 2040.

The Tu-95MS is a modernized version of the Tu-95. Modernization of the bomber is aimed primarily on the aircraft armament, namely adaptation of the new Kh-101/102 stealth cruise missile. The modernization includes installation of four underwing pylons for up to 8 Kh-101/102 cruise missiles as well as adjusting aircraft's main weapons bay for cruise missiles of size the Kh-101/102 (7.5 meters).

According to Russian military sources, 21 aircraft have been modernized as of April 2019. In 2019, 5 modernized Tu-95MS aircraft have joined the Russian Air Force.

The Tu-95MS Bear-H aircraft is also armed with two Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 twin-barreled, 23mm automatic cannons at the rear for self-defense against airborne threats. Each cannon has a rate of fire of 2,400 rounds a minute.

The Kh-101/Kh-102 Raduga is conventional and nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM) developed and deployed by Russia. A stealthy missile, the Kh-101/-102 is designed to defeat air defense systems by flying at low, terrain-hugging altitudes to avoid radar systems. The Kh-101 carries a conventional warhead, while the Kh-102 is believed to carry a 250 kt nuclear payload.

The Kh-101/-102 is reported to have a range from 2,500 km to 2,800 km, but according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the missile could have a maximum range of 4,500 km.

The Tu-95MS can fly at a maximum speed of 830 km/h. It has a cruise speed of 550 km/h and a flight range of 10,500 km. The range can be extended up to 14,100 km with flight refueling. Take-off and landing rolls of the bomber are 2,540 m and 1,700 m respectively, and the service ceiling is 10,500 m.