Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has just released the first-ever video footage of the maiden flight of a heavily upgraded Tupolev Tu-95MSM (NATO reporting name “Bear”). Modernization of the Tupolev Tu-95MSM strategic heavy bomber, equipped with the new Novella-NV1.021 radar, SOI-021 information display system, Meteor-NM2 airborne defense complex and upgraded Kuznetsov NK-12MPM turboprop engines. The upgraded turboprop engines will increase the range of the strategic bomber and halve the level of the motors’ vibration. The first flight took place on Aug. 22, 2020, at the Taganrog Aviation Plant (Beriev-IFTTC), in Taganrog.
The CEO of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Yuri Slyusar told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Army-2020 international military and technical forum on August 23 that the flight tests of the first prototype of the heavily upgraded Tu-95MSM strategic missile-carrying bomber had begun in Russia. The aircraft was piloted by the crew under the command of test pilot of the Zhukovskaya flight testing base, a subsidiary of the Tupolev Aircraft Company, Andrei Voropayev. The flight proceeded in the normal mode at an altitude of 9,000 meters and lasted 2 hours and 33 minutes. The systems and equipment operated without a hitch.
On 17 November 2015, Tu-95s had their combat debut, being employed for the first time in long-range airstrikes as part of the Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War. On 17 November 2016, modernized Tu-95MS strategic bombers performed their first combat deployment, launching the Kh-101 cruise missiles on several militant positions in Syria. On 5 December 2017, two Tu-95MS strategic bombers and two Il-76MD transport aircraft landed for the first time at the Biak Air Base in Indonesia. The bombers covered more than 7,000 km with mid-air refueling before landing at the air base.
The Tupolev Tu-95 is a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Aerospace Forces until at least 2040. A development of the bomber for maritime patrol is designated Tu-142, while a passenger airliner derivative was called Tu-114. The aircraft has four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines with contra-rotating propellers. It is the only propeller-powered strategic bomber still in operational use today. The Tu-95 is one of the loudest military aircraft because the tips of the propeller blades move faster than the speed of sound.