Alexander Mladenov examines the current state, operations and inventory of Russia’s long-range bomber fleet which has been undergoing upgrades while also seeing active service in Ukraine
Russia’s Long-Range Aviation (LRA) arm is the most recognisable component of the country’s strategic nuclear deterrence triad. Furthermore, it is the only one endowed with a dual nuclear/conventional strike capability, enabling its three principal bomber types to be effectively used in both small and large-scale armed conflicts at short notice.
The LRA crews have trained intensely in both nuclear and conventional missile strikes in a wide range of conflict scenarios. The strategic bomber community first showed its conventional capability in a war scenario in the Russian campaign in Syria in 2015, while in 2022 the LRA saw intense use to deliver mass strikes on numerous targets deep into Ukraine, supporting full-scale war operations.