Bear necessities: Profile of Russia’s Tu-95 bomber

A massive, unimaginably noisy and definitely antiquated-looking turboprop bomber, the Tu-95MS Bear-H still retains its significance in Russia’s nuclear triad.

By December 2021, Russia’s Long-Range Aviation (LRA) branch fielded a fleet of some 60 rapidly ageing Tu-95MS Bear-Hs in three front-line regiments, controlling a total of six component squadrons. A few more examples serve with the combat training centre at Ryazan-Dyagilevo south of Moscow for use in the conversion-to-type and upgrade training role.

The Tu-95MSM prototype took to the air in its maiden post-upgrade flight at Taganrog on August 22, 2020 and testing is expected to complete by 2022. United Aircraft Corporation

In addition, a prototype of the upgraded and life-extended Tu-95MSM for the LRA is currently undergoing flight testing, with the production stage of the upgrade given the go-ahead in 2021 and fielding into service expected by 2023.

But just how old is the current Bear-H fleet in Russia?

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