Soviet ‘Bear’

Soviet ‘Bear’

Alena Medvedeva & Alexander Karpov

The crews of Tu-142 long-range anti-submarine aircraft will continue to make long flights over the Arctic and Atlantic waters in 2022, the press service of the Northern Fleet reported. They called this task one of the priorities for machines of this type. Experts call Tu-142 aircraft one of the most effective means of countering potential enemy submarines. Analysts emphasize that, given the current geopolitical situation, regular patrolling of Russia’s northern maritime borders has become especially relevant.
In 2022, the crews of the Northern Fleet aviation will continue to make long flights over the Arctic and Atlantic on long-range anti-submarine Tu-142 aircraft, the press service of the fleet reported.
“The crews of the Tu-142 long-range anti-submarine aircraft of the Air Force and Air Defense Association of the Northern Fleet will continue their practice of long-term flights in the operationally important areas of the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. This task will be one of the priorities for the pilots of this type of aircraft in the new year, ”the message says.
The press service of the Federation Council noted that in 2021 the average duration of flights to the far sea zone for such crews was about ten hours, and the average distance traveled per flight exceeded 7 thousand km. Moreover, in addition to air patrolling and performing other assigned tasks, the pilots carried out ice reconnaissance and monitoring of the situation in the Arctic.
“All flights were performed in strict accordance with international rules and agreements on the use of airspace without violating the borders of coastal states,” the message underlines.
Soviet “Bear”
The Tu-142 (Bear-F in the NATO nomenclature) was developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the USSR in the 1960s. The need for this aircraft arose due to the appearance in the United States of new nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles on board.
Taking as a basis the airframe of the Tu-95RTs aircraft, the designers applied a number of new technical solutions in the car, for example, landing gear struts with 12-wheeled bogies and double-slotted flaps. This improved the takeoff and landing characteristics of the new aircraft and gave it the ability to operate from unpaved airfields.
The Tu-142 had a radar surveillance radar in the central part of the fuselage for detecting submarines on the surface and under the periscope. Behind it were compartments with anti-submarine strike weapons and sonar buoys. Also, the aircraft was equipped with a stern cannon and on-board electronic countermeasures with enhanced capabilities.
Tu-142 is one of the largest aircraft in the world with a wingspan of 50.4 m and a wing area of ??289.9 sq. m. The length of the aircraft is 53.07 m with a maximum weight of 185 tons and a combat load of 8845 kg. The cruising flight speed is 705 km / h with a practical range of about 10 thousand km. Aircraft of this type have been repeatedly modernized and modified. Experts call the Tu-142 one of the most effective anti-submarine weapons in the arsenal of Russian naval aviation.
“Tu-142 can fly long distances even without refueling in the air, and with refueling, the operating time and flight distance becomes even longer. In addition, they have very powerful equipment that allows them to detect submarines of a potential enemy at a depth of up to 100 meters from the air, ”stressed retired military expert Colonel Viktor Litovkin. Such aircraft are mainly used for patrolling areas where submarines with nuclear missiles on board and multipurpose nuclear submarines may be.
“They can transmit information about the location of these submarines both to surface ships and to the decision-making center for the destruction of these submarines. Or use your funds to eliminate them, “- explained the interlocutor of RT. In turn, military expert Yuri Knutov noted: despite the fact that the Tu-142 was developed back in the USSR during the Cold War, they are regularly modernized and can effectively counter even the most modern submarines. According to him, taking into account the appearance of new submarines from the United States and Japan, in the near future the Russian aircraft will have to undergo another modernization of search equipment and weapons.
Warning system element
Long-range strategic aviation of the Russian Federation – Tu-160 and Tu-95MS aircraft, as well as anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142 and Il-38 regularly fly over neutral waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic. In November 2017, the Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, noted that Russia had increased the intensity of long-range aviation flights to the level of the Soviet era.
“Over the past five years, long-range aviation aircraft have performed 178 air patrol flights in the waters of the Norwegian, North, Black, Japanese and Yellow Seas, in the western Pacific and north-eastern Atlantic oceans, as well as in the Arctic zone. If we compare the achieved indicators with those of the times of the USSR, then the intensity of long-range aviation flights is maintained at the same level. At the same time, the number of flights on the crew of the strategic missile carriers Tu-160 and Tu-95MS increased by 10% per year,” the commander said.
In the spring of 2018, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said: “For the first time since Soviet times, anti-submarine aircraft have flown across the North Pole to the North American continent.”
According to Yuri Knutov, taking into account the current military-political situation, flights of long-range anti-submarine aircraft in the Arctic and North Atlantic are becoming especially relevant.
“Taking into account the fact that the activities of NATO fleets, US ships and, first of all, nuclear submarines are intensifying along the Russian borders, there is a real threat to the general security of the Russian Federation. The development of such tasks is now especially important, since the West practically openly threatens Russia with both sanctions and increased military pressure. Therefore, such flights are necessary, ”the analyst believes.
He expressed the opinion that each such flight can be considered a kind of mini-exercise, within the framework of which the crew is trained, working out the coordination of actions of naval aviation and anti-submarine ships of the Russian Navy. In addition, Knutov stressed that in terms of ensuring the strategic security of the Russian Federation, the Arctic is of particular importance.
“The Arctic is a rather difficult region in this regard. Submarines under the ice are very difficult to spot. The ice layer excludes the use of sonar buoys and complicates the fight against already discovered submarines, ”the analyst explained. Therefore, according to him, the main task of anti-submarine aircraft is to timely detect submarines that are capable of breaking through the ice and surfacing.
“This task requires a very high level of training from the crew. This is important precisely because the US and NATO, in pursuit of their geopolitical goals, rely heavily on the Arctic. After all, this is the closest flight distance to Russia, and in this area it is difficult to detect submarines. And in the current military-political situation, this is actually one of the elements of the missile attack warning system, therefore a very great responsibility is imposed on these aircraft and their crews, “Knutov concluded.

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