The Russian Air Force has the third largest bomber fleet in the world after the US Air Force and the Chinese PLA. Most of the 137 Tu-22M3 Backfire, Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack units are expected to play an important role if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders his troops to "expand the war" in Ukraine, writes David Ax for the American magazine Forbes.
Don't expect the Ukrainian military to do anything about it. Now Russian bombers can finally do what American bombers have been doing for a long time - deliver precision air strikes against targets on land from hundreds and thousands of kilometers away, far beyond the reach of air defenses.
- he considers.
The author notes that since the mid-80s, the US Air Force began to equip its B-52 bombers with a non-nuclear version of the cruise missile. At the same time, the USSR Air Force, and then the Russian Federation, gave priority to the development of anti-ship missiles and did not improve their capabilities for delivering air strikes against targets on the ground so quickly.
The Russians did not arm their bombers with non-nuclear cruise missiles until the mid-2000s. It was only in 2015 that Tu-160s first used Kh-101 cruise missiles in Syria.
- the author specifies.
Kh-101 is a strategic cruise missile that can fly over 5500 km. Today, they are armed with both Tu-160 and Tu-95, which are actively working in the SAR. At the same time, they decided to equip the Tu-22M3 with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, which are currently equipped with several squadrons of MiG-31 interceptor fighters.
Just above the Engels airfield, where the Tu-160s of the 121st Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment are based, they can cover most of Europe, with the exception of southwestern Spain.
explained Douglas Barry, an IISS analyst based in London.
The bombers will begin to take off, climb and release the X-101. After that, land on the runway, replenish ammunition and take off again. The only restrictions will be the number of missiles in the warehouse and the availability of intelligence where to shoot.
This means that the only option for salvation is passive protection. To survive the missile attack, Ukrainians must move when they can and dig in when they can't.
- summed up the author.