Saturday, August 18, 2007

News: Putin rattles rusty saber.

The 37th Strategic Air Army of the Russian air force has been activated, and is resuming Cold War style patrol flights. It has a formidable TO&E (Table of Organization & Equipment),
including 64 Tupolev-95 "Bear" aircraft and 16 Tupolev-160 "Blackjack" planes
which is really scary when you just look at it. Military aviation nerds are probably chuckling by now, and we should let the rest of y'all in on the joke. The Tu-95 is a bomber that was state of the art at the time of its first flight, in 1952. An aircraft that makes the equally geriatric B-52 look sleek and modern by comparison, the Tu-95 Bear hasn't been a viable strategic threat since before JFK took office. The Tu-160 Blackjack, on the other hand, is state of the art circa 1970. Designed to fly really high and really fast, the "B-1ski" was a white elephant even before the end of the Cold War, since Surface-to-Air missiles fly higher and faster. In this instance, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was right on target when he said
"If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision,"
Whatever gets you through the night, Vlad.


Anonymous said...

Well if you consider the amount of money we have poured into the Soviet economy with oil money why not blow some on nostalgia.

The next step of course is to modernize the Soviet war machine and make it a force again.

Fortunately we have provided them the trillions of dollars it would take.

Remember the collapse of the USSR was brought on by cheap oil. With cheap oil gone, well, the old Soviet order could be reestablished pretty quickly.

Cybrludite said...


Money & will aren't in question here. It's time. It takes time to design & build new equipment. It takes time to train troops how to use it. It takes time to figure out the best ways to use the new gear. I don't see Putin as having enough time to get all that done before he fatally overplays his hand.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. Everyone else I've seen posting on this has been coming close to having grade school kids doing duck and cover drills.

Anonymous said...

You also need a population that can provide a base for a conscript army. Say what you will about today's American youth, they are a reasonably educated and intelligent bunch. Not so the Ivans these days.

The Soviets used to count on a bunch of tough Russian farm lads and ethnics from the Central Asian SSR's to fill out the ranks of two-year conscription. Not particularly well trained or led, they could at least be relied upon to make up for these deficiencies in grit. When the Sov Empire finally collapsed, all those "ethnics" went bye-bye. The freefall of Russian society after the Soviet Union broke up created a generation of drug-addled, reluctant, vodka-swilling misfits. Witness the performance of Russian conscripts in Afghanistan and Chechnya; at least the 80's era conscripts put up some kind of decent fight.

If there's one thing you don't want to be, it's a Russian lad forced to do his two-year conscription stint. It makes being a prison bitch in Pelican Bay a positively life-affirming experience.J

BobG said...

Methinks the teeth of the bear have gotten dull...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Weitzman, thank you for your thoughtful analysis. For military purposes at least, I hope you are right about both "us" and "them."

One Sunday, I flew a B-17 over my office at 1000 feet with the bomb-bay doors open. Two days later, our security people had bunched panties over the prospect of any employee having a rifle in their trunk. How many countries without super-power backing could withstand a determined force of B-17's (when, again, did the Israeli Air Force retire theirs)? Could a rebellious US city or ally repel the WWII Air Corps? Now, think about who the Russians' likely targets would be. Suddenly the Bear doesn't seem so ungainly.

In response, of course I think we should reactivate a lotsa-buncha Delta Darts, Phantoms, and those beautiful Starfighters. Come to mention it, we're approaching a critical sortage of Lightnings and Mustangs. Put it in the Arts budget, 'cause they sure are pretty.

In closing, the Buff numquam delenda est.

Anonymous said...

I think it is the old Soviet states that have the most to fear from these bombers. And even they should have a good chance of shooting them down.

Anonymous said...

Given the level of sophistication of your average Russian conscript, paid infrequently, using outdated equipment pulled out of the warehouse, fed questionably and more interested in girls, vodka and the black market, I'd be more concerned about the codgers driving hot rods at Cruzin' Night taking over the Sonic.

Actually, in a fight, my money would be on the rodders.


Anonymous said...

Ah, the Tu-95 Bear. The ultimate evolution of the Boeing B-29/ Tu-4 Bull.

In direct response, I have pulled my cap and ball Colts out of mothballs and cleaned and oiled them. Take that, Ivan.

Makes me want to cry out "Wolverines!" while trying to hold back a tear of nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

What we really need to pull out of mothballs is the F-102. Shouldn't be too hard to find someone trained to fly that thing.

Anonymous said...

Don't y'all go getting too overconfident, now.

"Ships, battles, and wars have been lost because an enemy no one expected to be able to fight, did." -- loosely quoted from Choosers of the Slain by James Cobb

By all rights the B-52 should be a sitting duck today too -- some of those flying Buffs today are the grandchildren of the crews who flew on its first sorties, fifty years ago. Yet it soldiers on.

The Bear today is more of a long-range recon platform than it is a bomber, although some models can carry long-range cruise missiles. The Blackjack is basically a manned first stage for long-range cruise missiles -- the AS-15 "Kent" missile is similar to the US Tomahawk, with an estimated range of 3000km and a variety of warhead choices including nukes. IOW, Bears and Blackjacks can avoid fighter and SAM defenses simply by launching their missiles from beyond intercept range.

Anonymous said...

You're right. We must take this Bear reactivation seriously. And they do have excellent countermeasures to defend against a variety of missile attacks, both ground to air and air to air. So, we need an interceptor.

There is only one clear answer to the Tu-95 threat and it's being built in small numbers right now in Washington state. If we move on this quickly, we could gear up for mass production in as little as 90 days.

'Our Germans are better than their Germans.'

Anonymous said...

If Putin wanted to re-arm russia, he should sell those Bear Bombers to American Warbird enthusiasts.

Carteach said...

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind a few F9 panthers being brought up for service.