Tupolev Tu-16

Tu-16R "Badger-E"
Role Strategic bomber
Manufacturer Voronezh Aircraft Production Association [1]
Designer Tupolev
First flight 27 April 1952
Introduction 1954
Retired 1993 (in former Soviet Union nations)
Primary users Soviet Air Force
Egyptian Air Force
Iraqi Air Force
Indonesian Air Force
Number built 1,509[2]
Variants Tupolev Tu-104
Tupolev Tu-124
Xian H-6

The Tupolev Tu-16 (NATO reporting name: Badger)[3] was a twin-engined jet strategic bomber used by the Soviet Union. It has flown for more than 60 years, and the Chinese licence-built Xian H-6 remains in service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force.


Tu-16 bomber at the Monino Museum.

In the late 1940s, the Soviet Union was strongly committed to matching the United States in strategic bombing capability. The Soviets' only long-range bomber at the time was Tupolev's Tu-4 'Bull', a reverse-engineered copy of the American B-29 Superfortress. The development of the extremely powerful Mikulin AM-3 turbojet led to the possibility of a large, jet-powered bomber.

The Tupolev design bureau began work on the Tu-88 ("Aircraft N") prototypes in 1950. The Tu-88 first flew on 27 April 1952. After winning a competition against the Ilyushin Il-46, it was approved for production in December 1952. The first production bombers entered service with Frontal Aviation in 1954, receiving the service designation Tu-16. It received the NATO reporting name Badger-A.

Rearside view of a Tu-16 Badger reconnaissance variant (most likely Tu-16R).

It had a new, large swept wing and two large Mikulin AM-3 turbojets, one in each wing root. It could carry a single massive FAB-9000 9,000-kg (19,800 lb) conventional bomb (the Russian equivalent of the British Grand Slam bomb) or various nuclear weapons to a range of around 4,800 km (3,000 mi).

Although the Tu-16 began as a high-altitude, free-fall bomber, in the mid-1950s it was equipped to carry early Soviet cruise missiles. The Tu-16KS-1 (Badger-B) version could carry AS-1 missiles over a combat radius of 1,800 km (1,125 mi). These very large weapons were aerodynamically similar to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighter, fitted with either a nuclear or conventional warhead, had a range of about 140 km (90 mi). They were intended for use primarily against US Navy aircraft carriers and other large surface ships. Subsequent Tu-16s were converted to carry later, more advanced missiles, while their designations changed several times.

Egyptian Tu-16s.

A versatile design, the Tu-16 was built in numerous specialized variants for reconnaissance, maritime surveillance, electronic intelligence gathering (ELINT), and electronic warfare (ECM). A total of 1,507 aircraft were constructed in three plants in the Soviet Union, in 1954–1962. A civilian adaptation, the Tupolev Tu-104, saw passenger service with Aeroflot. The Tu-16 was also exported to Indonesia, Egypt, and Iraq. It continued to be used by the Air Forces and naval aviation of the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia until 1993.

Delivery of the Tu-16 to China began in 1958, and the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation (XAC) license produced under the Chinese designation Xian H-6. At least 120 of these aircraft remain in service. On 14 May 1965, one of the PLAAF Tu-16 bombers carried out the first airborne nuclear weapon test inside China.[4]


See also: Xian H-6

Among the main production variants of the Badger were the Tu-16 and Tu-16A bombers; Tu-16KS and Tu-16K-10 missile carriers; Tu-16SPS, "Elka", and Tu-16Ye ECM aircraft; Tu-16R reconnaissance aircraft; and Tu-16T torpedo bomber; others were produced from conversions. Individual aircraft could be modified several times, with designations changed, especially concerning missile-carrying aircraft.

Tu-16K-10-26 Badger C
Tu-16 Badger G with KSR-5 missile
Tu-16K-26 or Tu-16KSR-2-11-16, with KSR-5 missiles under wings


Current operators of the Tu-16/H-6 in bright red, former operators in dark red
 People's Republic of China
 Soviet Union

Specifications (Tu-16)

General characteristics



See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. http://www.vaso.ru/?menu=planes_p05
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "VectorSite". The Tupolev Tu-16 "Badger". Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  3. http://www.designation-systems.net/non-us/soviet.html#_Listings_Bombers
  4. "Tu-16 bomber carried out nuclear bomb test in China, 1965". AirForceWorld.com. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  5. "World Air Forces". Armenia Air Force. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  6. "World Air Forces". Azerbaijan Air Force. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  7. 1 2 "Aircraft Profile:Tupolev Tu-16 Badger". Air International. August 2006.
  8. "World Air Forces". Belarus Air Force. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  9. "World Air Forces". Georgia Air Force. Retrieved 2007-01-12.


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