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Video: F-16s Intercept Russian Bombers

by John Reed on August 24, 2011

Remember how the Russian’s caused a minor ruckus a couple of years ago when they resumed flying long-range, Cold War-style patrols with their Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers (that were designed in the 1950s)? Well, those patrols are still going on and NATO air forces are still interecepting the flights. The cool video video (after the jump) was shot by a pair of Royal Netherlands Air Force (Dutch) F-16s that intercepted two Bears that entered Dutch airspace without identifying themselves on Aug. 17. This apparently marked the fourth time this year that Dutch fighters have been scrambled to intercept Russian bombers.

Still, its not a very big deal. The Tu-95s were shadowed by Danish F-16s before they entered Dutch airspace and where tailed by RAF Eurofighter Typhoons upon leaving.

The first versions of the Bear entered service with the Soviet air force in the 1950s and with their four turboprop engines each equipped with two, four-bladed contra-rotating propellers make it one of the loudest airplanes in the world. The current fleet of Bears is made up of the Tu-95MS that were built in the 1980s and 1990s and were designed to carry the Kh-55 air launched cruise missile — a mission they retain to this day. The Kh-55 can carry nuclear or non-nuclear weapons and has a range of just over 1,800 miles. China allegedly received a copy of this missile in the 1990s.

Interestingly, I can’t make out whether the Bear’s tail guns in this video are pointed straight upwards. This was apparently a common practice during the Cold War meant to calm the nerves of NATO pilots sent to escort them. Likewise NATO pilots were usually barred from locking onto the Soviet bombers with their fire control radars lest it be considered a hostile act.

Ahhh, Russia’s nostalgia for the good old days.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance_HBomb August 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Wait, how did the Russians get all the way to Dutch airspace?


Bill August 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

My only guess is that the Russians kept to the Baltic and North Seas – Highly doubt they flew through Poland and Germany.

Or perhaps the owner is not Russian, and may have simply purchased a Tu-95? (Doubtful though)


FenrisCZ August 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

If they flew over the Baltic Sea, they'd have to fly directly over Sweden or Denmark in order to violate Dutch airspace = not possible. I think those bombers are from the 22nd Air Division, 121 heavy bomber air regiment, which is headquartered at Engels AB near Saratov. I think they flew north into Barents sea and then around the Norwegian cost. The distance would be around 10 500 km – fully within Tu-95MS range with combat load.


Charlie August 26, 2011 at 10:38 am

We closed our Iceland base where this folks were first intercepted as they came around North Cape / Norway. Another sound decision by our Defense and State Department. Bears and Backfires can come and go as long as they stay out off Norway's airspace. Norway didn't care for their nonsense. To fly as far down as as the Dutch territorial and intrude into their airspace is a bit new.. The Bears can also go to Cuba.


Cheesed August 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm

"Russian's?" Proofread.


Cheesed August 24, 2011 at 2:47 pm

That statement needs a period at its end.


John Moore August 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Thats too funny! Made me laugh nice


B RAD August 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm



Tim August 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Hilarious . Ivan the game is well and truly over I guess the Vodka finally took its toll.


Chuck August 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

That lunatic Putin is having flashbacks once again.


RIC HEIVILIN August 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm



RIC HEIVILIN August 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm



gypsy6 August 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm

The Tu-95 may still be effective in the maritime surveillance role but its days as a strategic bomber are long over. The Russians are just showing the flag with flights like this.


Lance August 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm

It can still deliver nukes threw cruse missiles like our B-52 dose it still has bite in modern warfare.


Lance August 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm

The TU-95 is the Russian B-52 a plan which still flies the Cruse Missiles they have can deliver a nuke from way outside NATO airspace.


Chops August 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm

They may not know where the Russians' tail guns are pointing but you know where those F16 missiles are ready to go to.Keep it up Putin–you're arrogant.


OMEGATALON August 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

This can be view as an act of war and how do you correctly respond, you tell the Russians that you'll shoot down any Russian bomber that is in your country's airspace; then, you equip your Norwegian destroyers with AEGIS defense systems, buy more F-16s and possibly THAAD missile defense system.


Darrell Sutherland August 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm

OMEGATALON love your solution. Not sure if it would help the Dutch or Denmark, but it would help the American defense industry!!


Stephen N Russell August 24, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Cold War 2: Imagine same model Tu 95 taken in 1950, 1960, 2001 & Today & other Intercepters, photos alone say volumes.
Timeless reminder we are in Cold War 2, unless China flies Tu95s.


Hunter78 August 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm

A little shooting affair may be just what Putin wants. A chance to crack down on the population in defense of the mother land?


Elijah August 24, 2011 at 10:23 pm

And maybe while the right hand was being watched a stelth recon got what it wanted on the left hand. The US should start another space program. We can not achieve our goals if we depend on others to do it for us.


jsallison August 24, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I'll give props to the crews and the wrench monkeys back in the rear for making those elderly critters keep on keeping on. Too bad we didn't keep a couple of B-36's around for the Novaya Zemlya route for old time's sake. My mom used to have those puppies take off from Hanscomb AFB over her house when she was a kid, said it was quite the sight.


kidwittoothpick August 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I like to see the pics where f-22's escort those russian tu-95's


Robb August 25, 2011 at 3:00 am

It's the Confederate Airforce and they're lokin for dam Yankees!


David August 25, 2011 at 5:10 am

Just a simple point of clarification: I'm assuming the still photo leading into this article is from the video because I can't get the video to work here on my work computer. So, going off that, I'd like to point out that the BEAR in the photo with the F-16 is actually a Tu-142, not a Tu-95 – a subtle, yet important difference. Because of this, the mission was most likely nothing more than long-range navigation training for the crews coupled with the Russians showing the flag.


observer August 25, 2011 at 5:49 am

quote: The Tu-95 may still be effective in the maritime surveillance role but its days as a strategic bomber are long over.

You are very very wrong, comrade.
Modern days Tu-95s are getting Kh-101 which is stealth nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a range about 5500 kilometers (3400 miles). So Bear still sharping his claws.

Their fleet of supersonic Tu-160 bombers would be modernized to carry these toys in its weapons bays.


Eddie August 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

Having been lucky enough in the late 70s during the Cold War to have actually flown alongside a Bear, one of the procedures was to shadow it with 3 aircrraft. 1 under , 1 on the tail and 1 off a wing. Should the bomb bay doors open, the aircraft underneaths only mission was to fly into into the bomb bay preventing anything from dropping. The USSR got smart and after awhile flew with the bomb bays open at interception, so all we got after that was some great pictures up close and personal.
Kudos to the crews on this flight. It was a memory I will never forget in my time .


blight August 26, 2011 at 8:49 am

Yowza. Surprised they didn't design a ventral weapon for that mission, like the Nazis had in WW2.


blight August 26, 2011 at 8:50 am

Whoops, dorsal.


Charlie August 26, 2011 at 10:47 am

Sorry to break your ego…….Rules of engagement forbid flying that close. Per Gen Thomas Macenery, TAC CDR. you will not fly closer than 1 mile to a Russian aircraft. He was afraid of an altercation.. Figure that……….


DemonicMuppet August 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Dig the "bow-chikka-bow-bow" soundtrack. Call it aeroporn.


Jay August 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Tailguns, wow. Makes me feel like watching black and white TV.
What caliber?

Funny thing is we're about to put a tailgun on the harvest hawk.


cavalry06 August 26, 2011 at 5:17 am

Just goes to show that we are still a toggle switch away from the big enchilada in defending one's nation. You got all the tree huggers running around thinking Defense spending in any capacity is a waste of taxpayer dollars…little do these people know that NATO and America still have nations that want to bomb us into oblivion and the threat of war with Russia or China no matter what is shown in the political arena is very real!!!!!


ArmyAirRecon August 26, 2011 at 8:15 am

If you go to the Elmondorf AFB web site there is a great picture of an F22 and the TU


ricky August 31, 2011 at 11:59 pm

or, this could be a way of tem distracting there attention or something or getting rid of it or the pilots were drunk


sandwich April 30, 2013 at 1:58 am
Affiliate lawyer May 3, 2013 at 1:50 am
blight August 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Which is the whole point of intercepting and pushing them away. If they keep going, shoot them down, then wait for the ICBMs.


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