India to acquire TU-160: The most Dangerous strategic bomber from Russia


We all know that Indian Air Force is the fourth largest air force in the world. But it does not have strategic bomber in its fleet. Many defense experts had identified this drawback of Indian Air Force. Now finally, Indian Air Force have decided to acquire strategic bomber aircraft from Russia. India had selected Russian TU-160 bomber aircraft.

Indian former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Arup Raha had given a speech in Chanakya Dialogues and focused on India’s plans to acquire strategic bomber aircraft. India is already negotiating with Russia for the price of Tupolev-160 aircraft. This is the most dangerous bomber aircraft ever build. This aircraft is known as ‘White Swan’. But however, both the countries haven’t disclosed anything about this deal.           

Tupolev TU-160 Blackjack Strategic Bomber

What is Strategic Bomber?

A strategic bomber is medium or long-range air to ground bomber aircraft. These bomber aircrafts can silently drop bombs in enemy territories and return back. It is designed for large scale bombing in distant enemy targets. Strategic bombers are designed such a way that it can reach into far enemy territories and demolish strategic targets like building, logistics, infrastructure etc. Only three countries in the world have strategic bomber aircraft in their air force, they are US, Russia and China.

Bomber aircraft can destroy long distance targets. These aircrafts can carry heavy payload. US Airforce dropped nearly 1665 bombs on Tokyo by its B29 bomber aircraft and killed many people. The figure is much more than people killed in nuclear bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From this, we can understand how dangerous these bomber aircrafts are.     

US and Russia have finest bomber aircrafts in the world like Boing B-52H, Rockwell B-1B Lancer, B-21A spirit and B-21 Raider etc. Russian advance bombers are TU-160M2, Tupolev Pak-Da etc.

TU-160 is a supersonic jet which was designed in 1970. It entered into service in Russian Air Force in 1987. After TU-160 aircraft entered into service, it became part of 184th Guards Heavy Bomber Regiment deployed in Pryluky Air Base, Ukraine. Maximum speed of this aircraft is Mach 2.3. This aircraft has capabilities to carry conventional weapons and bombs. The modernized version is capable to carry conventional cruise missile. TU-160 is been upgraded and modernized from time to time.  

Why India do not have Strategic Bomber?

Bomber aircrafts are very expensive. These bombers are also big in size that’s why can be detected easily in radar. It can be used only when the air defense of enemy is totally destroyed. India’s policy from beginning is not to kill innocent civilian of any country. Although, modern strategic bombers have stealth capability that’s why they can easily penetrate enemy bases. Bombers also capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Till now India never interfered in any country’s internal matters and India also haven’t send its troops to far countries for military operations. But we can see US or Russia had send their troops several times to far countries for military operations. For this reason, they need strategic bombers because they can fly far areas and destroy enemy bases and infrastructure. Like for example American B-2 bomber can fly more or less 10,000 km without refueling. And with this bomber America can bomb enemy territories far from its homeland.

In other side India is a peaceful country and it do not have enemies far from its territory. These days the new aircrafts are coming with new technologies that’s why we say them multirole aircraft. They can carry both air to air and air to ground weapons. Indian Air Force presently have several aircrafts which have air to ground attack capability in short and long range. Indian Air Force have aerial refueling which can give the aircrafts long range. So, India’s necessities were met with the strike and multirole aircrafts. India also have nuclear inter-continental ballistic missile which have range of more than 5000 kilometers. That’s why there is no necessity to carry them with aircraft. India’s enemies share borders with India in its north eastern and north western part. They are not far from its territory. India’s focus is on defense not on attack to any country.

The Drawbacks

The main drawback of bomber aircrafts are that they can not fly quickly and escape from the enemy territory if detected. It also can be detected by the radars easily except some modern stealth bombers like American B 2 bomber. Bombers are very vulnerable to air defense systems. Its positive side is that they can carry heavy payload of weapons and can travel long range to destroy the target.

TU-160 Strategic Bomber Aircraft

Why India is Purchasing TU- 160 Strategic Bomber Aircraft?

China does not have any tactical advantage in the mountainous areas of Tibet. There they do not have proper infrastructure of airfields. Chinese Airforce had deployed strategic bombers in its bases in Tibet. These are H-6 bombers and china deployed these to keep India in pressure. But China is developing H-20 stealth bomber and it will become operational in Chinese PLAAF by 2025. The design of H-20 makes it undetected from air defense systems. It can carry 45 tons of payload.

Now if I look into Indian scenario then we have to go back during independence. India had operated three squadrons of American B-22 liberators left by Royal Air Force in its inventory. After that it was replaced by Canberra B-57 bombers. It was a medium range bomber and served in Indian Air Force till 2007. Now we have Sepecat jaguar as our bomber Aircraft. Indian strategic planners became more Pakistan centric after Kargil and Bangladesh Liberation war. IAF’s Jaguar Aircrafts can attack them easily by precision ammunition with great effect and we have best air defense systems deployed in our borders. But these equations have changed. We have China and Pakistan present in our northern borders. Chinese Airforce is strengthening itself with stealth bombers which cannot be detected by air defense systems. Also, it is the reality that the north eastern part of China is out of range. So, time has came for India to acquire long range strategic bombers which can cover entire China. Government of India should increase defense budget and acquire long range strategic bomber aircrafts as soon as possible.

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