Russian Heavy Bomber Force Overview

Organization and Composition

As of 2000, Russian Long-Range Aviation (LRA) consisted of one air army, the 37th, which was created in 1998 with the purpose of uniting all heavy bombers under a single operational headquarters. The reorganization eliminated three out of five heavy bomber divisions then in existence, and subordinated the remaining two to the 37th Air Army.[1] The two divisions controlled by the 37th Air Army are the 22nd Donbass Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Division and the 73rd Heavy Bomber Aviation Division. The 22nd has four regiments, including the 121st Heavy Bomber Regiment with Tu-160 [NATO designation 'Blackjack'] and Tu-95MS [NATO designation 'Bear-H'] bombers, two regiments with Tu-22M3 [NATO designation 'Backfire'] bombers, and one regiment with Il-78 [NATO designation 'Midas'] aerial refuellers. The 121st Heavy Bomber Regiment and the aerial refuelling regiment are based at Engels Air Base in Saratov Oblast, while the Tu-22M3 regiments are based in Novgorod and Kaluga Oblasts.[2] Following the transfer of additional heavy bombers from Ukraine, plans were announced to form a Tu-160-equipped regiment, also to be based at Engels. The 73rd Heavy Bomber Aviation Division is based at Ukrainka Air Base in Amur Oblast, and is equipped solely with Tu-95MS bombers.[3] This division, founded in 1943 as a night bomber unit, absorbed four LRA divisions deactivated in 1998 during reductions in the armed forces.[54] As of 2000, Engels and Ukrainka were the only strategic bomber bases in Russia; Mozdok Air Base in North Ossetia was closed in May 1998 and all aircraft based there were relocated to Engels.[1,4] The 37th Air Army's Commander, Lieutenant General Mikhail Oparin, has indicated that his command will probably undergo further reorganization to better adapt itself to changing roles and missions. According to Oparin, the 37th Air Army's command and control apparatus is in particular need of reform.[5] At the same time, Oparin has resisted proposals to break up LRA and assign its divisions and regiments directly to military district commands or other branches of the armed forces. The probability of implementation of these proposals does not appear to be high, and the 37th Air Army will likely retain its role as the controlling headquarters for all of Russia's strategic bombers.[6]

In terms of numbers, Russian strategic bomber force has remained relatively stable during the 1990s. Peaking at 94 aircraft in 1994, it gradually decreased to 73 aircraft by July 1999, but then rose again to 85 in 2000 due to the transfer of eight Tu-160 and three Tu-95MS bombers from Ukraine in late 1999 and early 2000, and the completion of a new Tu-160 bomber. According to the START I MOU Data Exchange for 31 July 2000, there were 15 Tu-160, 13 Tu-95MS16 (Tu-95 model capable of carrying sixteen ALCMs) bombers and five Tu-95MS6 (capable of carrying six ALCMs) bombers based at Engels Air Base, and 21 Tu-95MS16 and 27 Tu-95MS6 bombers were based at Ukrainka Air Base. An additional two Tu-95 non-ALCM-capable bombers were located in Ryazan. Finally, 37th Air Army assets include 134 Tu-22M3 bombers capable of carrying supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, short-range attack missiles, or free-fall ordnance.[7]

The transfer of Ukrainian strategic bombers followed several years of protracted and apparently fruitless negotiations. However, during a special Security Council session in April 1999, possibly under the influence of the Kosovo crisis, it was decided to restart the negotiations which eventually led to an agreement to transfer strategic bombers to Russia in exchange for the partial cancellation of Ukraine's energy debt to Russia. As a result, the LRA bomber force received a considerable boost, particularly since the agreement also provided for the transfer of 575 Kh-55 [NATO designation AS-15 'Kent'] ALCMs, spare parts, and support equipment in addition to the 11 strategic bombers. All 11 transferred bombers were assigned to the 22nd Heavy Bomber Division and, after undergoing maintenance, were officially accepted into service in October 2000. [8] Although the LRA initially had hoped it would obtain an additional 10 bombers through another bombers-for-debt deal, there is no indication another bomber transfer is in the works.[9]

LRA's strength will probably remain at approximately present levels for the foreseeable future, although a gradual decline in numbers is likely if funds are not made available for modernization of its aging aircraft fleet. It is not likely that Russia will obtain additional bombers remaining in Ukraine. In November 1999, Russian Air Force Commander in Chief Colonel General Anatoliy Kornukov announced that Russia has "satisfied its requirements for strategic bombers," implying that none of the bombers remaining in Ukraine were suitable for service, although they could have been useful as sources of spare parts.[10] Although reports surfaced of a new round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine concerning the transfer of nine or 10 additional heavy bombers in the summer of 2000, they were quickly denied by Ukrainian government representatives. The Ukrainian denial of a new deal came shortly after the US Ambassador to Ukraine noted that such transfer would result in a cut off of further funding for bomber dismantlement projects in Ukraine. All heavy bombers remaining in Ukraine were scrapped by mid-2001.[11]

LRA may also receive up to four additional Tu-160s which are currently at various stages of completion at the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Production Association (KAPO). Their construction was ordered suspended by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. In May 2000 the 37th Air Army took receipt of one of these bombers, which was finally completed after a five-year break in its construction. One additional aircraft is undergoing slow completion process, and there are no indications as to when or whether the Russian government will allocate funds for the completion of the remaining aircraft.[9,12] There appear to be no plans to restart the Tu-160 production line, which would be considerably more expensive than finishing existing incomplete aircraft, and in any event Russian Air Force leadership seems to be more interested in developing new bombers, incorporating stealth and other leading-edge technologies, rather than in investing in continued production of the Tu-160, which is no longer at the forefront of heavy bomber design.

In addition to boosting the 37th Air Army's strength, the recent strategic bomber acquisitions have significantly renewed LRA, particularly its Tu-160 component. The transferred Ukrainian-owned Tu-160s are on average younger than the Russian-owned ones, and are estimated to have used up only 10-20% of their design service lives. According to Russian specialists, they could remain in service until at least 2020.[13] However, due to the fact that heavy bombers in Ukraine had not been properly maintained for seven years, they are reported to be in dire need of repair and servicing, to the extent that their flights from Ukraine to Russia were considered a violation of safety rules.[53] Nevertheless, in spite of the transfers the LRA cannot ignore the progressive aging of its bomber fleet. According to one estimate, the majority of LRA's Tu-95MS fleet will reach the limit of their design service lives by 2005, necessitating withdrawal from service or costly upgrade and modernization programs.[7,14] Recent Russian government initiatives indicate that it desires to keep its strategic bomber force in service for decades to come, and that the importance attached to strategic bomber force modernization may have increased. In December 1998, then-First Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Maslyukov wrote in Izvestiya that a government directive specifying the modernization of Russia's heavy bomber fleet has entered into force. As a result of extending the service lives of existing bombers mandated by the directive, by 2010 the LRA would have six Tu-160s (Maslyukov's article was written before the Ukrainian bomber transfer) and 30-40 Tu-95MS remaining in service, all armed with new models of cruise missiles.[15] The most recent modernization plans, which were announced in June 2000, call for the Tu-160s to remain in service until 2030-2050 through continual modernization. [16] Tu-95MS and Tu-160 modernization efforts will include replacing certain obsolete subsystems that are no longer in production, and adapting the bombers to use new weapon systems which are expected to enter service with the Russian military in the near future.[17] During a May 2000 meeting with Krasnaya zvezda reporters, then-Chief of Armaments Colonel General Anatoliy Sitnov spoke of the need to modify Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers to use conventional weapons and to improve their ability to receive real-time targeting data.[18] Heavy bomber modernization is part of a larger Air Force modernization program, which seeks to upgrade on-board systems of Russian Air Force aircraft and implement other updates.[17]

There are indications that bomber modernization plans are actually being implemented. On 18 October 2000 the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that all 15 Tu-160 bombers of the 22nd Bomber Aviation Division at Engels Air Base will undergo thorough refurbishment and modernization at the Gorbunov KAPO.[13,19] Another facility engaged in supporting the strategic bomber force is the 360th Repair Plant in Ryazan, which in 2000 began modernizing Tu-95MS bombers. This program, which also includes adapting the bombers to carry new types of conventional cruise missiles, reportedly enjoys the highest priority of all aircraft modernization programs. The 360th Repair Plant is also participating in the program to upgrade Tu-22M3 bombers. Designated Tu-22M5, the new Tu-22M variant will be able to carry four Kh-101 or six to eight Kh-SD conventional ALCMs, or an unspecified number of new Kh-32 supersonic anti-ship missiles.[20] However, adapting Tu-22Ms to carry strategic ALCMs like the Kh-101 would require these aircraft to be declared as heavy bombers for START I purposes.

Nevertheless, even if the Russian government is able to fully finance the currently planned heavy bomber modernization programs, it will still face the prospect of the numerical decline of LRA due to obsolescence unless a successor or successors to aircraft currently in service are developed. However, as of the beginning of 2001, there were no indications of an imminent appearance of a new Russian strategic bomber. Available information on strategic bomber development in Russia in the 1990s is sketchy and often contradictory. For example, it was reported in May 1999 that, due to inadequate financing, the development of a new aircraft to replace Tu-95MS and Tu-160 had been stopped.[21] That decision may have been overturned later in the year, since in March 2000 reports appeared that the Russian Air Force was in the final stages of evaluating the competition to develop the successor to the Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers. The article also noted that, in view of the current state of research and development, the new bomber would need an additional 10 to 15 years of development.[22] Firms reported as taking part in the competition included the Tupolev Design Bureau, considered to be the Ministry of Defense's favorite, and several other aircraft design bureaus, including Sukhoi, Ilyushin, and Myasishchev, some of which have no prior experience in heavy bomber design. The Russian Air Force hoped the competition would result in an unorthodox, multi-role, inexpensive, and effective heavy bomber.[23,24] However, the competition was apparently curtailed without a winner being selected, and the development of a new strategic bomber once again was reported as suspended indefinitely in August 2000 due to the lack of adequate funding.[25] There are no indications of when the development of a new heavy bomber will resume. In the meantime, the Russian government has taken steps to ensure the preservation of its industrial base for the development and production of new heavy bombers. Russian Government Decree No. 720 issued in 1999 placed Tupolev on the list of companies having strategic importance for Russia's national security. Some Russian experts are of the opinion that, given its current level of development, should the development of the next strategic bomber be restarted it would enter service within 10 to 15 years.[24]

Missions and Doctrine

During the Soviet era Long-Range Aviation's primary mission was to deliver nuclear weapons in strategic and theater missions, although some of its units were also used in a tactical role during the war in Afghanistan, conducting high-altitude bombing strikes against insurgent bases using conventional dead-fall ordnance. LRA has retained its strategic nuclear mission after USSR's present collapse and it remains its most important mission to this day. Moreover, LRA is not subject to cuts under START II, and its relative weight in Russia's nuclear triad is likely to increase as land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles are reduced in numbers and the ICBM force makes the transition to single-warhead missiles.

At the same time, LRA has been responsive to the changes in Russian military doctrine that have taken place in the 1990s. One of the new doctrinal concepts LRA incorporated into its exercises is the use of limited nuclear strikes in order to demonstrate resolve and "de-escalate" conflict. This concept, which was described at length in an article in the May-June 1999 issue of Voyennaya mysl, was incorporated into a number of large-scale 37th Air Army exercises. For example, during a 37th Air Army exercise conducted from 6 until 8 October 1998, its heavy bombers practiced conventional bombing attacks (simulating the destruction of enemy airfields) and nuclear cruise missile launches, in cooperation with Il-78 tankers and Su-27, Su-30, and MiG-31 fighters. The exercise scenario simulated repelling a notional NATO attack against Russia, with LRA actions aimed at disrupting NATO operations and later "de-escalating" the conflict through demonstrative use of nuclear weapons.[26] Similarly, the 37th Air Army played a significant role in the large-scale Zapad-99 exercises, which featured a scenario postulating a large-scale enemy aerial assault on Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast. LRA participation included long-range Tu-95MS and Tu-160 flights over the Atlantic off the Norwegian coast, complete with simulated cruise missile launches against targets in North America and Western Europe. As in the October 1998 exercise, Zapad-99 was concluded by an LRA-delivered nuclear demonstration which "de-escalated" the conflict.[27,28,29]

In recent years the strategic nuclear mission has been supplemented by the desire to exploit Russia's strategic bombers' thus far underutilized potential as conventional weapons carriers. The interest in enhancing Long-Range Aviation's conventional capabilities can be traced to successful offensive air operations during the Gulf War, and more recently against Yugoslavia. In the course of the latter operation, NATO strategic and tactical aircraft effectively used stand-off precision-guided conventional munitions to overcome the enemy's air defense system and inflict considerable damage on its infrastructure with minimal casualties among its own forces. Whereas land- and submarine-based ballistic missiles will most likely continue to outnumber LRA in terms of deliverable warheads, LRA's versatility and ability to use conventional munitions mean it can be used in a wider range of conflicts and carry out a vastly greater range of missions. Its units are increasingly seen participating in joint exercises with other branches of the military in regional conventional conflict scenarios and practice using conventional weapons. Particular emphasis in the emerging LRA doctrine is being placed on employing conventional cruise missiles from beyond the range of the opponent's air defenses. Judging from the way Russian heavy bombers have been used in recent exercises, the Russian military leadership has evidently come to consider its heavy bombers not only as a means of conducting "de-escalatory" nuclear strikes, designed to demonstrate resolve in a conventional conflict against a superior adversary, but also as the main means of delivering precise conventional strikes against key operational and strategic targets located deep in the enemy's rear areas. In April 2000 LRA units participated in a joint exercise with elements of the Black Sea Fleet and other Air Force and Air Defense units, which simulated ending a large scale conflict in the Balkans. This exercise featured simulated launches of long-range conventional ALCMs (reportedly a first) and cooperation with air-refuelled Su-30 [NATO designation 'Flanker'] and MiG-31 [NATO designation 'Foxhound'] long-range fighters, A-50 [NATO designation 'Mainstay'] airborne early warning aircraft, and conventional bombing strikes by Tu-22M3 bombers. One of the exercise's main goals was the development of tactics and techniques for employing conventional cruise missiles, an indication of the LRA's reorientation.[30] In a December 1999 interview, 37th Air Army Commander General Oparin stated that at that time Russia had no forces capable of striking key strategic targets deep in the enemy's territory during a conventional conflict other than LRA. He noted that LRA is likely to retain this monopoly for the foreseeable future. In addition, Oparin stated that he considers the effectiveness of precision-guided munition strikes to be similar to that of weapons of mass destruction, and that heavy bombers armed with precision-guided cruise missiles are an effective means of conventional deterrence.[5]

One indication of how the Russian leadership might use LRA's conventional capabilities came in early 2000 with the rumors that Russian heavy bombers might be used to conduct strikes against Taleban camps in Afghanistan in retaliation for their alleged aid to Chechen insurgents and attempts to undermine the stability of Central Asia. While no strikes materialized, Presidential Advisor Sergey Yastrzhembskiy indicated that the threat to use LRA bombers against Taleban camps had the desired effect of deterring the Taleban from aiding Chechen insurgents. Other Russian experts, including Aleksandr Pikayev of the Carnegie Foundation, stated that in addition to forcing the Taleban to dissociate themselves from the Chechens, it reassured Central Asian governments, which look to Russia for aid against the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.[31] At the same time, it was noted that the effectiveness of Russian heavy bombers in carrying out such missions would have been greatly limited due to the fact that at present the LRA has no conventional precision-guided weapons and would have had to rely on free-fall, unguided ordnance.[6,33]

For all the increased emphasis on conventional missions, LRA is not neglecting its strategic nuclear mission. A September 1999 LRA exercise featured Russian heavy bombers conducting long-duration training flights over the Pacific, with simulated cruise missile strikes against US targets.[3] A similar exercise took place in December 2000, during which LRA bombers with fighter escort flew a number of missions simulating cruise missile launches against continental US targets. This exercise was the first in many years involving long-range flights over the Arctic and involved seven Tu-95MS bombers operating from forward airfields at Anadyr, Tiksi, and Vorkuta to which they deployed immediately prior to the exercise. It was the first such deployment in several years.[33,34] Russian Air Force spokesmen have indicated that the 37th Air Army's Arctic training missions will once again become a regular occurrence.[35]

Provided the LRA is able to secure the funds to refurbish its aging fleet of aircraft and provide them with new ALCMs, it is likely to represent a significant component of Russia's strategic arsenal in the decades to come. The promoters of strategic aviation are emphasizing that in addition to its considerable conventional capabilities, the LRA retains considerable strategic capabilities absent from other components of Russia's nuclear triad, including the ability to perform nuclear demonstrations of force, stable nuclear second-strike capability conferred by its ability to disperse, and the capability to deliver nuclear strikes unaffected by ABM systems. The latter point was emphasized by Oparin in a December 1999 interview with Krasnaya zvezda, during which he stated that heavy bombers could become an effective counter to the planned US National Missile Defense, particularly if equipped with long-range, stealthy ALCMs.[36]

Training and Readiness

Protracted economic crisis since independence has negatively affected the readiness and combat capabilities of all branches of its armed forces, including the components of Russia's nuclear triad. As a result of persistent funding shortages, LRA has experienced considerable difficulties in maintaining its aircraft, training its aircrews, and even ensuring adequate nutrition of its personnel.

Available information suggests that on average only one-third to half of LRA's aircraft are considered combat-ready at any one time. For example, only 49 out of 134 Tu-22M3 were reported in combat-ready condition in 1998.[7] The situation is not much different when it comes to the aging Tu-95MS fleet, and even the relatively new but highly sophisticated, and thus requiring considerably more maintenance, Tu-160 bombers have been suffering from readiness problems. Only two of the six Tu-160 bombers in LRA's possession prior to the transfer of the Ukrainian bombers were considered combat-ready in 1997-98.[7,37] Tu-160 readiness levels may have increased by the end of 1998, since up to four Tu-160s participated in an October 1998 37th Air Army exercise.[26] The readiness of LRA's bomber fleet may experience further improvements thanks to the infusion of relatively new aircraft from Ukraine and Gorbunov KAPO, and the recently announced modernization programs.

One of the main factors affecting strategic bomber readiness has been the availability of spare parts, a constant problem for LRA during the 1990s. Many Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers are kept at high readiness thanks largely to collecting spare parts from obsolete variants of these aircraft that have been withdrawn from service.[26] The spare parts situation has been alleviated somewhat by the transfer of spare parts from Ukraine under the "bombers for energy debt" deal. However, it appears that LRA's hopes to acquire non-flyable heavy bombers from Ukraine which would be cannibalized for spares will not be realized.[11] The LRA currently has only about 70% of spare parts it needs.[53]

In addition to maintenance problems, the LRA is also forced to find ways to cope with reduced fuel allowances, which are generally considered to be inadequate to permit proper training. In 1998, for example, fuel shortages limited flying time to only 12-20 hours per pilot during the year.[38] LRA received only 20% of fuel it needed to fully implement its training plan for that year.[39] In 1999, the reported average flying time for LRA pilots was 20 hours and in 2000 it was only 10-20 hours.[34,40] In an interview with Krasnaya zvezda, the 37th Air Army Senior Inspector Major General Vasiliy Malashchitskiy stated that the 37th Air Army received 27-28% of its required fuel allowance for 2000. The crews are attempting to maintain their proficiency by conducting training flights on Tu-134 and An-26 transport aircraft belonging to the 37th Air Army's training center, or by training on simulators. Neither of these methods, however, are considered an adequate substitute.[41]

In addition to failing to provide its pilots with adequate flight training, the 37th Air Army has not been able to provide adequate weapons training either. In 2000, 37th Air Army crews conducted only 11 training cruise missile launches, which means only a fraction of bomber crews received the opportunity to perform a training launch during the year.[41]

The cumulative effect of several years of inadequate training has resulted in an overall decrease in the quality of LRA aircrews. To remain fully proficient, LRA pilots need to conduct long-duration (10 hours or longer) training flights over the Arctic or open sea, with multiple in-flight refuellings and simulated cruise missile launches. Curtailment of training meant that such training missions have become comparatively rare, and most of them are now limited to short-duration flights of no more than three hours. Whereas during the Soviet era exercises involving entire regiments were not uncommon, in the past decade even major exercises rarely featured more than a handful of bombers. Inadequate flight training allowances, combined with the natural attrition of senior, more experienced pilots (due to retirements, etc.) mean that the average LRA bomber crew has become less proficient over the course of the last decade.[2,42]

The effectiveness of the Russian strategic bomber force is also hampered by inadequate tanker support. The ratio of bombers to tankers in the LRA is 3:1, considerably worse than the USAF, which is able to support each strategic bomber with two tankers. As a result, many 37th Air Army pilots have never had the opportunity to practice an in-flight refuelling.[42] Financing problems have also affected the quality of life of 37th Air Army's personnel. In a December 1999 interview, Oparin stated that LRA units are forced to grow their own fruits and vegetables, raise chickens, and run dairy farms. Some LRA units also appear to receive financial support from a number of local and city governments.[5]


With the exception of Tu-22M3 bombers, which are capable of carrying conventional anti-ship cruise missiles, LRA's Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers are currently limited to carrying nuclear Kh-55 [NATO designation AS-15 'Kent'] or Kh-55SM (a longer-range variant of the Kh-55) ALCMs, or conventional free-fall bombs. However, LRA's gradual reorientation toward a dual nuclear/conventional role has also prompted a re-examination of its heavy bombers' payloads and has led to the development of new types of conventional stand-off munitions. Although new ALCMs have been in development for several years, their development was reportedly accelerated following the Kosovo conflict in 1999, which illustrated the usefulness and effectiveness of such munitions.[43] However, it is also possible that work on new cruise missiles was intensified due to growing concerns that LRA's Kh-55 and Kh-55SM [NATO designation AS-15 'Kent'] stocks will exhaust their service lives by 2003.[44]

The most important new ALCM expected to enter service in the near future is the Kh-101, which is sometimes referred to in Russian press as "izdeliye 101." This 2,400kg cruise missile will reportedly carry a 400kg conventional high explosive penetrating warhead to a maximum range of 5,000-5,500km at a subsonic cruising speed of 190-200 m/s and at altitude of 30-6,000m. The missile will be equipped with an optronic guidance system and a TV camera for terminal guidance, ensuring a high degree of accuracy. It is likely the new ALCM will also use inertial and/or satellite guidance. The Kh-101 is also reported to feature low-observable characteristics, with a radar cross-section on the order of .01 square meters. Along with the Kh-101, the LRA is also to receive its nuclear variant, designated Kh-102. Both missiles are being developed by the Raduga Design Bureau, which also developed the Kh-55-series ALCMs.[45] The Tu-95MS will reportedly be able to carry eight Kh-101s externally (although some sources indicate these bombers will have their bomb bays widened to accomodate new missiles internally),[46] whereas the Tu-160 would be able to carry 12 internally. The first Kh-101 launches reportedly took place in October 1999, with additional launches being conducted during April 2000 exercises of the 37th Air Army.[45]

The second ALCM under development, designated Kh-555, is a conventional variant of the Kh-55SM currently in service. The first test launches of Kh-555s were variously reported to have taken place in January 2000 or October 1999.[47,48] A third ALCM currently under development is a medium range missile with provisional designations of "izdeliye 244" and Kh-SD, a subsonic, medium-range, conventional cruise missile incorporating a number of Kh-101's subcomponents, including the guidance system. It is being developed primarily for the Tu-22M5, an upgraded variant of the Tu-22M3, which will be capable of carrying four Kh-101 or six to eight Kh-SD missiles, or an unspecified number of new Kh-32 supersonic missiles. Additional weapons designed to enhance the conventional capabilities of Tu-22M variants include the Kh-32 supersonic missile, a successor to the Kh-22 [NATO designation AS-4 'Kitchen'] with extended range, improved ability to engage land targets, and the ability to perform anti-missile evasive maneuvers during the terminal phase of flight. The Kh-32 is to be deployed in nuclear and conventional configurations. Finally, Tu-22M-series bombers will also be adapted to carry a new variant of the KAB-1500 1.5 metric ton guided bomb.[20,39,49,50]

It is not yet known when the new missiles will enter service. The decision to complete the development and begin production of Kh-101 and Kh-555 appears to have been made in late 1999. [50] In November 2000 the Russian Air Force Commander Army General Anatoliy Kornukov announced in November 2000 that LRA would receive a new long-range ALCM in 2003.[51,52] Work on adapting Russian strategic bombers to carry the new weapons also began in late 1999, when the 360th Repair Plant in Kazan starting modifying a batch of 13 Tu-95MS bombers to carry the Kh-101 ALCM. The same plant is also participating in the upgrade program of Tu-22M3 bombers converting them to Tu-22M5s.[20] While the missiles are still years from entering service, the 37th Air Army is already preparing tactics and doctrine for their use. Accounts of the October 2000 exercises of the 22nd Heavy Bomber Division made numerous references to preparing to use new cruise missiles and confirmed that bomber crews participated in tests of a new missile type.[41]

[1] Ivan Safronov, "Strategicheskaya aviatsiya uletayet s Severnogo Kavkaza," Kommersant-daily online edition, rpoducts/ .../ 09323493.DOC.rhtml, 14 April 1998.
[2] Sergey Sergiyevskiy, "Kakaya problema slozhneye—bombardirovshchiki bez goryuchego ili letchiki bez kvartir?" Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, 14-20 August 1998, p. 3; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 19 August 1998; in Integrum Techno,
[3] Ilya Kedrov, Sergey Sokut, "The Target is Across the Pacific," Nezavisimaya gazeta, 17 September 1999, p. 2; in "N-Bombers in Russian Exercise Over Pacific," FBIS Document FTS19990920000718.
[4] Yuriy Golotyuk, "Moskva likvidiruyet svoyu krupneyshuyu aviabazy na Kavkaze," Russkiy Telegraf online edition, rtf/ 98/ 04/ data/ 0411-5.html, 11 April 1998.
[5] Krasnaya zvezda, 23 December 1999, p. 1, 3; in "37th Air Army's Oparin on Long-Range Air Power," FBIS Document CEP 20000103000006.
[6] Aleksandr Simonenko, "Long Arms with Powerful Fists," Armeyskiy sbornik, 1 May 2000, pp. 45-49; in "Strategic Air Commander on Future Roles for Long-Range Aviation," FBIS Document CEP20000706000289.
[7] Aleksey Podberezkin, Anton Surikov, "Dogovor, dayushchiy preimushchestva SShA," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, No. 7, 1998, p. 6; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 13 May 1998; in Integrum Techno,
[8] "Zavershena podgotovka samoletov, peredannykh Rossii Ukrainoy," Yadernaya Rossiya segodnya, 11 October 2000.
[9] Sergey Dedrukh, NTV, 5 May 2000; in "New Tu-160 Joins Russian Strategic Fleet at Engels Base," FBIS Document CEP20000505000194.
[10] "Rossiya 'ischerpala svoi potrebnosti v strategicheskiky bombardirovshchikakh' posle priobreteniya v oktyabrye u Ukrainy 11 samoletov, schitayet glavkom VVS RF Anatoliy Kornukov," ITAR-TASS, 3 November 1999; in Integrum Techno,
[11] UNIAN, 11 August 2000; in "Security official denies Ukraine discussed transferring more bombers to Russia," FBIS Document CEP20000811000205.
[12] Boris Bronshteyn, "Money Later," Izvestiya, 6 May 2000; in "New Russian Tu-160 Handed Over, Three More in Pipeline," FBIS Document CEP20000508000039.
[13] "Zaklyucheno soglasheniye o remonte strategicheskikh raketonostsev Tu-160," Yadernaya Rossiya segodnya, 18 October 2000.
[14] "Dalnyaya aviatsiya poka ostanetsya bez vysokotochnogo oruzhiya," Novyye izvestiya, 29 April 1999, p. 1; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 5 May 1999; in Integrum Techno,
[15] Yuriy Maslyukov, "Dogovor i sudba strategicheskikh yadernykh sil Rossii," Izvestiya, 16 December 1998, p.1, 6; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 18 December 1998; in Integrum Techno,
[16] Andrey Malosolov, "Polnoye pereosnashcheniye Rossiyskoy armii na vooruzheniye 'pyatogo pokoleniya' proizoydet posle 2008-2009 goda," RIA Novosti, 30 June 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[17] "Modernizatsiya osnovnykh tipov letatelnykh apparatov Rossiyskikh VVS proydet do 2010 goda v neskolko etapov," Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 15 November 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[18] Vladimir Dernovoy, "Vooruzheniye: segodnya i zavtra," Krasnaya zvezda, 30 May 2000, p. 1, 2; in Integrum Techno,
[19] Vladimir Anyutov, Ildar Valeyev, "Remont raketonostsa," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, 8-14 September 2000, p. 2.
[20] Alevtina Volkova, Sergey Grigoryev, "Strategicheskiye stanut mnogotselevymi," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, No. 22, p. 6; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 20 September 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[21] Sergey Sokut, "Obyavlen ocherednoy srok vzleta novogo Miga," Nezavisimaya gazeta, 8 May 1999, p. 2; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 12 May 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[22] "VVS Rossii zavershayut provedeniye konkursa na razrabotku novogo strategicheskogo udarnogo aviatsionnogo kompleksa," Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 28 March 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[23] "Konkurs po razrabotke novogo aviatsionnogo strategicheskogo udarnogo kompleksa otlozhen na neopredelennoye vremya," Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 31 July 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[24] Yuriy Golotyuk, "Rossiya yeshche sygrayet v "blek dzhek," Izvestiya, 14 December 1999, p. 1; in WPS Aviatsionnaya Promishlennost, 20 December 1999; in Integrum Techno,
[25] "Zameny ne budet," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, 1-7 September 2000, p. 6.
[26] Sergey Sokut, "Nadezhnoye sderzhivaniye menshimi silami," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, 16 October 1998; in Integrum Techno,
[27] Sergey Borisov, "'Success': Good News From the Long-Range Bombers," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, 2-8 July 1999, p. 5; in "37th Air Army Cmdr on Zapad-99 Role," FBIS Document FTS19990716001791.
[28] Sergey Sokut, "Return 'from Round the Corner'," Nezavisimaya gazeta, 29 June 1999, p. 2; in "Tu-95MS's Cross Atlantic in 'Zapad-99'," FBIS Document FTS19990629000876.
[29] Yuriy Golotyuk, "Defense Ministry Premiere in 'Western Theater," Izvestiya, 29 June 1999, p. 2; in "Zapad-99 Said To Have Rehearsed Nuclear Strike," FBIS Document FTS19990629000823.
[30] Sergey Babichev,"U 'dalnikov' khoroshyye perspektivy," Krasnaya zvezda, 27 April 2000, p. 1; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 28 April 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[31] Aleksey Germanovich, "Signal Flare Attack," Vedomosti, 25 May 2000; in "Yastrzhembskiy Aide: 'Threat' Against Taleban Achieved Goal," FBIS Document CEP20000526000290.
[32] Realizovat ugrozu budet neprosto," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, 2-8 June 2000, p. 2; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 7 June 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[33] Aleksandr Shaburkin, "Rossiyskiye raketonostsy podraznyat Ameriku," 2 December 2000, p. 2; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 2 December 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[34] "Vpervyye za posledniye desyat let strategicheskaya aviatsiya VVS Rossii pristupila k poletam v Arkticheskoy zone planety," ITAR-TASS, 1 December 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[35] Ivan Safronov, "'Bears' in North Put Fear Into Pentagon," Kommersant, 2 December 2000, p. 2; in "Kommersant Notes Pentagon 'Concern' at Russian Bomber Flights in Arctic," FBIS Document CEP20001204000271.
[36] Sergey Babichev, "Dalniki silneye obstoyatelstv," Krasnaya zvezda, 23 December 1999, p. 1, 3; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 27 December 1999; in Integrum Techno,
[37] "VVS terpyat katastrofu," Pravda-5, 11 December 1997, p.1; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 15 December 1997; in Integrum Techno,
[38] Vyacheslav Kriskevich, RenTV, 20 February 1999; in "Russian Strategic Bombers Grounded by Lack of Fuel," FBIS Document FTS19990220000700.
[39] Boris Talov, "'Umnitsu' nikto ne ostanovit," Rossiyskaya gazeta, 14 August 1998, p. 9; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 19 August 1998; in Integrum Techno,
[40] Aleksandr Chernorechenskiy, Sergey Sokut, "The Pull-Out From the Spin is Being Delayed," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, 21-27 January 2000, p. 3; in "Chernorechenskiy, Sokut: Air force is preserving combat readiness at the cost of its internal reserves," FBIS Document CEP20000128000003.
[41] Anatoliy Dokuchayev, "Novaya formula udara," Krasnaya zvezda, 12 October 2000, p. 1.
[42] "O tom, kakovy segodnya rol i mesto Dalney aviatsii VVS Rossii v obespechenii natsionalnoy bezopasnosti strany, o perspektivakh ee razvitiya korrespondentu 'Armeyskogo sbornika' (No.5) rasskazyvayet komanduyushchiy 37-y Vozdushnoy Armiyey Verkhovnogo Glavnogo Komandovaniya (Strategicheskogo Naznacheniya) General-leyetenant aviatsii Mikhail Oparin," Voyennaya mysl, May-June 2000; in Integrum Techno,
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[44] Sergey Sokut, "Kursom na mnogofunktsionalnyye samolety," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, No. 31, 1998, p. 6; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 21 October 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[45] Boris Talov, "Superstrely XXI veka," Rossiyskaya gazeta, 21 April 2000, p. 3; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 21 April 2000; in Integrum Techno,
[46] Aleksandr Shaburkin, "Strategicheskaya aviatsiya porazhayet tseli," Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, No. 35, 1998, p. 6; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, 20 January 1999; in Integrum Techno,
[47] Sergey Sokut, "End of U.S. Monopoly," Nezavisimaya gazeta, 12 January 2000, p. 2; in "Russia To Test Long-Range Non-Nuclear ALCM," FBIS Document FTS20000112000369.
[48] Interfax, 12 December 1999; in "Russia: Strategic Aviation To Be More Powerful Soon," FBIS Document FTS19991212000459.
[49] Ivan Safronov, "Russian Air Force Learns NATO Lesson," Kommersant, 18 April 2000, p. 3; in "More on Air Exercises in Southern Russia," FBIS Document CEP20000418000226.
[50] Ilya Kedrov, "Change of Owner for Missile Carriers," Nezavisimaya gazeta, 10 November 1999, p. 2; in "Russia to 'Develop Production' of New Cruise Missiles," FBIS Document FTS19991119991161.
[51] "New technology to start flowing to Russian air forces in 2007-2010 - Commander," Interfax, No. 1, 18 November 2000.
[52] "Massovoye perevooruzheniye novoy tekhnikoy Rossiyskikh Voyenno-Vozdushnykh Sil nachnetsya posle 2007-2010 godov," Agentstvo voyennykh novostey, 20 November 2000.
[53] Nadezhda Audzeeva, Sokoly v ozhidanii kerosina, Obshchaya gazeta online edition, www.og/ru, 9 August 2001{Entered 1/18/2001 MJ}
[54] Aleksandr Bogatyrev, "Boyegotovnost - glavnyy kriteriy," Krasnaya zvezda online edition, 2002/ 11/ 11_11/ 1_01.html, 11 November 2002. {Updated 3/31/2003 EMC}

May 11, 2009

This articles provides an overview of Russia's heavy bomber force, including its organization, primary mission and armaments.


This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2018.