This is coolbert:
Here is an excellent slide show from the BBC NEWS showing photos of Russian long-range aviation bomber aircraft involved in the recent resurgent international flights that have surprised so many observers.
Tu-95 [Bear] and Tu-160 [Blackjack].
"These enormous Tu-95 bombers have a range of more than 10,000km (6,250 miles)."
"Since the end of the Cold War, they have been virtually grounded. But this summer, President Vladimir Putin ordered their return to the skies."
Please note that each turbo-prop engine has the dual propeller. For that slight extra amount of boost if needed. The Tu-95 IS the fastest turbo-prop driven aircraft ever built.
"The Tupolevs carry cruise missiles and can be equipped with nuclear weapons. They were one of the most striking symbols of the Cold War."
"In recent months, they have been spotted again off the coasts of the UK, United States and Norway."
Mission is NOT to drop a "dumb" nuclear weapon over a city. Mission is a stand-off, fire cruise missiles with nuclear weapons at targets from a distance.
"This cockpit is now a museum piece. It was built to accommodate a crew of seven to eight."
"Pilots spent up to 13 hours in these incredibly cramped conditions. There were no toilets or other comforts – and controls were so heavy only a very fit person could operate them"
That cockpit by U.S. standards is probably terribly antiquated. Very ancient tube-type analog electronic systems. The U.S. can supply off-the-shelf upgrades and make a nice profit and "help" the Russians?
"The air traffic control unit does not seem to be very advanced, either.
"Russian bombers have to share the airspace with civilian flights going into Saratov, a big regional centre a few kilometres from Engels."
NOT so long ago, just knowing that these bombers were flying out of Saratov would have been a state secret known only to a few. NOW, it is common knowledge?
"These planes, Tupolev Tu-160s, were conceived as a replacement for the ageing Bears."
"The first Tu-160 Blackjack flew in 1981. These aircraft are supersonic and can carry up to 45 tons of bombs and missiles."
Blackjacks were made only in small numbers. ONLY about sixteen exist. And an even smaller number are capable of flight. Could penetrate enemy airspace, but again, probably more versatile as a stand-off delivery system firing a barrage of nuclear equipped cruise missiles at an adversary. NOTE too the anti-flash [nuclear] white paint on the bombers.
"Russian generals say the West has nothing to worry about."
"They insist these flights are for training purposes - and, as the commander of this air force base told us, Russian warplanes never venture beyond international waters."
Well, they do not have to. A primary mission of such bombers would be to locate and attack American naval ships, primarily aircraft carriers, in international waters.
"Most of the pilots who fly the Tu-160s have now seen the shores of Scotland, Iceland and Norway."
"'When you fly at night,' one pilot told me, 'Europe is all lit up like a Christmas tree. It's very beautiful – and very different from Russia.'"
There is a famous night-time satellite view of the world taken some years ago now. Places like Cuba, North Korea, Siberia, sub-Saharan Africa, all show up as big black empty spots. NO lights at night - - because - - NO electricity!
"But, of course, these flights are anything but sightseeing cruises."
"The Russian military may be saying their intentions are innocent – but it is easy to see why Europe is keeping a close watch on these ghostly Cold War bombers."
And not only Europe. The U.S. too!