Warplanes: Bears Get BUFFed Up


October 29, 2007: After years of requests from the Russian Air Force, the Tu-95 is getting its electronics upgraded. This was last done in the 1980s, when the current version of the Tu-95 was upgraded to be a cruise missile launcher. The upgrade included defensive avionics (radar detectors and jammers) along with chaff and flare dispensers, and sensors under the nose and tail to detect approaching missiles.

The Tu-95MS is a propeller driven aircraft, most often used for naval reconnaissance. As a heavy bomber, it is a 180 ton aircraft that can carry 12 tons of bombs and missiles. It has a combat radius of over 5,000 kilometers. Actually, it's total range of 15,000 kilometers enables it to reach just about anywhere on the planet, if is uses in-flight refueling.

Russia have 63 Tu-95MS "Bear" strategic bombers in service. No details of the upgrades were released, except a mention of "artificial intelligence" being used. This is a feature of all modern electronic defensive systems. If the Russians develop and install first rate stuff, it could cost them over $20 million per aircraft. This was the kind money it cost to upgrade B-52 electronics in the last decade. A nickname for the B-52 is BUFF (Big Ugly Fat F***er).


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