The latest patrol mission of Tu-95MS strategic bombers in the Asia-Pacific lasted for more than ten hours – it’s a long time, but the Japanese and South Korean air forces made sure the Russian pilots didn’t get bored.
Russia’s Defense Ministry released footage, which showed the two bombers taking off from an airfield in Russia as well as encounters they had in the air with foreign jets.
The Tu-95 is a massive plane with a wingspan of about 50 meters, which NATO calls the ‘Bear’. Introduced in the 1950s, it became the symbol of the USSR’s parity with the US during the Cold War. The ‘Bear’ is unique for using a propeller turbine, with old school technology allowing the aircraft to burn less fuel, which is essential for long flights, and making it less visible to satellites than planes with jet engines.
The patrol route of the Tu-95MS aircraft went through the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea. The bombers were accompanied by Su-35C jets and A-50 surveillance aircraft during their marathon flight.
Such patrols, carried out in strict accordance with international law, are a routine practice for the Russian Aerospace Forces. But they still attract a lot of attention from foreign states, with the current mission being no exception.
At some point, the Russian bombers were shadowed by US-made F-15 and F-16 jets of the South Korean Air Force. Later, Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force raised its Mitsubishi F-2 aircraft to monitor the Tu-95MS flights.