Tupolev Tu-142 “Bear-F”

soviet naval aviation Circa 100, 8 variants (1968-2017)

The Russian “Bear” casts its shadow over the USN

To start this new cold war naval aviation section, let’s start not with the USN but the Soviet Navy, giving the fact that using extensive air assets was part of the doctrine to compensate for the numerical inferiority of the Sovietsky Flot when facing the USN Navy. For this, the TU-142 “Bear-F” was one its serious ace in that long range overseas reach. Derived from the Tu-95 “Bear” strategic bomber, it was a Maritime reconnaissance/anti-submarine warfare. It was in fact to be capable of hunting down US submarines first, then deal with taske forces with large antiship missiles, although this role was better taken over by shorte range Tu-16 Badger, Tu-22 Blinder and Tu-26 Backfire naval variants. Stil, this rival of the iconic USAF B-52 bomber had no equivalent in the west, but the P-3 Neptune and P-5 Orion, smaller, slower and shorter range.

Design genesis: The Tu-95 “Bear” strategic bomber

The Tupolev Tu-95, nicknamed “Bear” by NATO, is a long-range strategic bomber and missile platform that has been a symbol of Soviet and later Russian military aviation since the 1950s. It was developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau, first flew in 1952, entered service in the Soviet Air Force in the mid-1950s.
This was is a large, four-engine turboprop aircraft with a distinctive swept-wing design and a double fuselage, featuring contra-rotating propellers reduceing engine vibrations and increasing efficiency. Its primary role was of strategic bomber, capable of carrying nuclear and conventional weapons. It is also later declined for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. In this role, it carries torpedoes, depth charges, and anti-ship missiles.
The Tu-95 has an impressive range, allowing it to conduct long-range missions. Early variants had a range of over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles). Later versions have seen improvements in this regard. It typically has a crew of six, which includes a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, and two gunners. The cockpit is located in the forward section of the aircraft.
Nuclear Capabilities was included early on between freefall bombs and cruise missiles, making it a key component of Russia’s nuclear triad, alongside land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
The Tu-95 is known for its distinctive and loud “thumping” sound generated by its contra-rotating propellers. This sound is often associated with the aircraft and can be heard from a significant distance. It went through several upgrades and modernization programs over the years to improve its avionics, communication systems, and electronic countermeasures. These upgrades have extended its service life.
It was Exported (both the Tu-95 and Tu-142) to other countries notably India for the latter.
The Tu-95 “Bear” has been a symbol of Russian military aviation and a strategic deterrent for many decades. It remains in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces, and its ongoing presence is a reminder of the Cold War era and the continuing importance of strategic bombers in modern military strategies.

Design of the Tu-142

The Tupolev Tu-142, often referred to as the “Bear-F” by NATO, is a maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. It is derived from the Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber and shares many design elements with the Tu-95, including its distinctive swept-wing design and contra-rotating propellers. The primary role of the Tu-142 is maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare. It is used by the Russian Navy and has been operated by other countries as well.
The Tu-142 is a four-engine turboprop aircraft with a double fuselage, similar to the Tu-95. It features a spacious fuselage that can accommodate various mission-specific equipment and sensors.
Anti-Submarine Warfare: The aircraft is equipped with advanced sonar systems, magnetic anomaly detectors, and various anti-submarine weapons, such as torpedoes, depth charges, and anti-ship missiles. Long-Range Capabilities: Like the Tu-95, the Tu-142 has a long operational range, which allows it to conduct extended maritime patrol missions.
Crew: The crew of the Tu-142 typically includes a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, sensor operators, and weapons operators.
Variants: The Tu-142 has seen several variants, including the Tu-142M, Tu-142MR, and others, each with specific mission capabilities and equipment.
Service: The Tu-142 has been used by the Russian Navy and was exported to several other countries, including India, which operated a modified version called the Tu-142ME. India, in particular, used the Tu-142 for long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare.
Modernization: Like the Tu-95, the Tu-142 has undergone modernization efforts to improve its avionics and mission capabilities.



Lengthened Tu-95 with much defensive armament removed, and instead incorporating ASW systems. Twelve aircraft initially had 12-wheel main undercarriage bogies. Six later aircraft had four-wheel bogies. Built by Kuibyshev Aviation Plant.


30-centimetre (12 in) stretch to front fuselage, redesigned cockpit and two-axle main undercarriage bogies. Built by Taganrog.


Greatly improved variant with new Korshun radar, avionics and ASW equipment. 43 Tu-142MKs were constructed by Taganrog.


Eight downgraded Tu-142MKs purchased by the Indian Naval Air Arm. E stands for “export”.


Last production variant of the “Bear F”, with new NK-12MP engines and a new avionics suite. Can be distinguished from other Tu-142s by its chin fairings. Built by Taganrog


Proposed commercial cargo variant of the Tu-142M3 (the K standing for “kommercheskiy”), with ASW avionics removed. Also designated Tu-142M3-C.


Modified single Tu-142M used as avionics testbed.


Modified Tu-142MKs built as submarine communications relay aircraft. Has distinctive external fairings and components. NATO codename “Bear J”.


Two converted earlier Tu-142s used for testing of turbofan engines. ASW equipment was removed.



The Tu-142 were now “owned” by the Soviet Navy but the Soviet Air Forces and were transferred to the Russian Naval Aviation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Operating units from 1972 to 1990:
-35th Long-Range Anti-Submarine Aviation Division – Fedotovo (air base), Vologda Oblast
-76th Long-Range Anti-Submarine Aviation Regiment
-135th Long-Range Anti-Submarine Aviation Regiment
-310th independent Long-Range Anti-Submarine Aviation Regiment – Kamenny Ruchey, Khabarovsk Krai
Russian Naval Aviation (post-1990): 22 Tu-142MZ/MR/MK in service with upgrade with the SVP-24 bombing system ongoing.
-7062nd Port-Arthur Krasnoznamennaya Naval Aviation Air Base – Kamenny Ruchey, Khabarovsk Krai
-568th Composite Aviation Regiment
-2nd Guards Aviation Group – Fedotovo (air base), Vologda Oblast
-403rd Composite Aviation Regiment

Ukraine (post-1990)

The only ones available were captured while stationed at the Mykolaiv Aircraft Repair Plant after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Mykolaiv Aircraft Repair Plant was providing repairs for many types in the late cold war. By agreement, some Tu-142 later returned to Russia, the remaining were dismantled (START I agreement). However two survived on display, one Tu-142MZ in the Ukraine State Aviation Museum and one early Tu-142 in the Aviation Technical Museum of Luhansk.


The only operator of the naval variant of the “bear” outside Russia: The Indian Naval Air Arm operated 8 former Soviet Tu-142MK-E aircraft from March 1988 to March 2017 so for 29 years. They were retired on 27 March 2017 during a ceremony at the INS Rajali air base, replaced with jet-powered state of the art Boeing P-8 Poseidon patrollers.
The sole Unit operating these was INAS 312 – INS Rajali, Tamil Nadu.
One is preserved as a museum for public access opposite to the INS Kursura (S20) (museum on the Beach Road, Visakhapatnam) and another Tu-142MK is at the Naval Aircraft Museum, New Town Kolkata.

⚙ Tu-142 specifications

Empty Weight 90,000 kg (198,416 lb)
Max Takeoff weight 185,000 kg (407,855 lb)
Lenght 53.08 m (174 ft 2 in)
Wingspan 50 m (164 ft 1 in), airfoil TsAGI SR-5S
Height 12.12 m (39 ft 9 in)
Wing Area 311.1 m2 (3,349 sq ft)
Engines 4× Kuznetsov NK-12MP turboprop engines, 11,033 kW (14,795 shp) each
Propellers 8-bladed contra-rotating constant-speed propellers
Top Speed, sea level 925 km/h (575 mph, 499 kn)
Cruise Speed 711 km/h (442 mph, 384 kn)
Range 6,500 km (4,000 mi, 3,500 nmi)
Ceiling 12,000 m (39,000 ft)
Armament Missiles, ASW torpedoes, depth charges
Crew 11–13, see notes

Operational History

(To Come)

Read More/Src





Model Kits



Individual Tu-95MS profiles by Tom Cooper, “Izborsk”, “Moskva”, and “Vorkuta”.
(Author’s profiles awaited in the future).

Author: naval encyclopedia

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