Monday, March 14, 2011

Current Status Of Russian Nuclear Arsenal [Part 3]

Part 2 contd...

The Russian strategic aviation consists of 76 bombers that can carry up to 844 long-range cruise missiles. The bombers are 13 Tu-160 (Blackjack) and 63 Tu-95MS (Bear H). The bombers can carry various modifications of the Kh-55 (AS-15) cruise missile and gravity bombs.

Strategic aviation

Strategic aviation units form the 37th Air Army of the Supreme High Command (Strategic) of the Russian Air Force. The commander of the 37th army -- Major-General Anatoli Zhikharev -- was appointed by a presidential decree on 19 September 2009.

As of end of 2010, the 37th Air Army included 76 strategic bombers that can carry up to 844 long-range cruise missiles.


Number of bombers

Total cruise missiles


Number of cruise missiles and their type



Tu-95MS6 (Bear H6)


6 Kh-55 (AS-15A)



Tu-95MS16 (Bear H16)


16 Kh-55 (AS-15A)



Tu-160 (Blackjack)


12 Kh-55SM (AS-15B)








Strategic aviation units

The 37th Air Army includes two heavy-bomber divisions of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS aircraft. In addition to these, the army includes four divisions of Tu-22M3 (Backfire C) bombers.

The 22nd Guards Heavy-Bomber Division, based in Engels (Saratov oblast), includes two bomber regiments: the 121st Guards regiment of Tu-160 bombers and the 184th regiment of Tu-95MS bombers. The division currently includes 13 Tu-160 aircraft and 23 Tu-95MS bombers.

In addition to this, the 22nd division may include the 203rd Regiment of Il-78 tankers, which is based in Ryazan. Ryazan is also a place of a training center, which can be used a base for bombers of the division.

The 326th Heavy-Bomber Division is based in Ukrainka (Khabarovsk kray). The division includes the 79th regiment and 182nd Guards regiments of Tu-95MS bombers. The total number of bombers deployed in Ukrainka is 40.

Strategic bombers

The Tu-95MS (Bear H) strategic bomber was developed at the A. N. Tupolev Design Bureau. Serial production of the bomber continued from 1984 to 1991 at the aviation plant in Kuybyshev (currently Aviakor Aviation Plant, Samara). The bomber is equipped with turboprop engines. It can carry six Kh-55 cruise missiles in the bomb bay. The Tu-95MS16 version of the bomber can carry additional ten missiles under wings, but this significantly reduces bomber's range.

The Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bomber was developed at the A. N. Tupolev Design Bureau and produced at the aviation plant in Kazan (currently S. P. Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Production Association). The bomber can carry 12 Kh-55 cruise missiles in the bomb bay. During the modernization program that is currently underway Tu-160 bombers will be equipped to carry gravity bombs and non-nuclear cruise missiles.

Cruise missiles

The Kh-55 (AS-15, RKV-500A) long-range air-launched cruise missiles were developed at the Raduga Design Bureau (Dubna, Moscow oblast). Production of the missiles began in 1983 at the Dubna Machine-Building Plant. The Kh-55SM (AS-15B, RKV-500B) version of the missile, which can be deployed on Tu-160 bombers, has extra fuel tanks and extended range. In 1999 Russia tested an improved version of the Kh-55 missiles, which became known as Kh-555. Reportedly, this missile is a non-nuclear version of Kh-55. It will be carried by Tu-160 bombers.

Russia is currently developing a new long-range cruise missile, which would probably replace Kh-55. The conventional version of the new missile is known as Kh-101, the nuclear version is usually referred to as Kh-102.



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