Military/Intelligence Bulletin 01/2020 – Russian Long Range Aviation (LRA)

What is the current capability of Russian LRA?

Russian LRA was centre-stage during the final battle between government forces and anti-government militants for the Syrian city of Aleppo.

On the 17 November 2016, a force of turboprop Tupolev TU-95 ‘Bear’ bombers, supported by a flight of Ilyushin IL-78 ‘Midas’ air-to-air refuelling tankers, were tracked, by NATO air defence radars in Norway and Scotland, flying around the North Cape.

They flew out over the Atlantic heading southwest before turning due south, passing the west coast of Ireland then on to the Straights of Gibraltar. During this time they were being shadowed by UK Royal Air Force and Portuguese Fighters.

This force then turned east, flying inbetween Europe and Africa, entering the western Mediterranean.

By now, NATO surmised that this force was headed for Syria. As the aircraft neared Cyprus two TU-95s launched a salvo of Kh-101 ‘stealthy’ cruise missiles at anti-government militant targets around Aleppo.


A Russian Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ photographed from a RAF Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert aircraft (QRA) with 6 Squadron from RAF Leuchars in Scotland.

Credit: Open Government Source


An Ilyushin Il-78 simulating aerial refuelling with a TU-95MS during the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on 9 May 2009.

Credit: By Sergey Ashmarin:



The Kh-101/-102 was developed as a long-range, standoff cruise missile to replace the ageing Kh-55 and kh-555 ALCMs. It travels on a low altitude flight path beneath infrared and radar systems, and its use of radar absorbing composite material makes the missile challenging to detect. Its accuracy is also believed to be quite high,

Credit: Missile Defense Project, Centre for Strategic and International Studies


This mission was on par with the distance flown by the 6,600 mile ‘Black Buck’ mission conducted by RAF Avro Vulcan bombers during the 1982 Falklands War.


On 26 September 2017, Tu-95MS bombers flew 7,000 km from Engels Air Field in southwestern Russia through Iraqi and Iranian airspace before launching Kh-101 cruise missiles at ISIS and JFS targets in the Syrian provinces of Deir al-Zor and Idlib.


What is the size of the Russian LRA?

Although no longer the 500 plus bomber force it used to be, it still has a significant number of aircraft. Now the Russian LRA consists of around 120 bombers and just under 20 air-refuelling tankers.

The Russian LRA is grouped into two operational divisions (current commander Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash:

22nd Guards Donbass Heavy Bomber Division

Engels Air Force Base – Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjack’ supersonic jet bombers and Tupolev Tu-95s.

Tambov Air Force Base – Tu-22M3s

Sheykovka Air Force Base – Tu-22M3s

326th Guards Sevastopol-Berlin Heavy Bomber Division

Ukrainka-Seryshevo Air Force Base – Tu-95MS

Beleya Air Force Base -Tu-22M3s

203rd Guards Orlovsky Independent Aircraft-refuelling  Aviation Regiment -IL-78 ‘Midas’ air-to-air refuelling tankers

Current Orbat:

10 x Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjack’ in active service.

40 x Tupolev Tu-95s in active service.

60 x Tu-22M3s in active service

More than 40 surplus Tu-22M3 airframes remain on LRA airfields.



Credit: By Dmitriy Pichugin

I have been out of the writing arena for a while, due to reasons i don’t wish to discuss on social media. But, I have picked up my pen again and have started writing the rest of Perditon, the sequel to Purgatory and Paralysis. I am currently over half way through. My target is to write at least 1,000 words per day.

Post copyrighted to Harvey Black

Military/Intelligence Bulletin 07/2019 – MQ-9 Reaper squadron to Poland.

The US to send 1,000 additional troops and an MQ-9 reaper squadron to Poland.

In order to beef up troops in Poland and establish a forward divisional headquarters there in order to deter potential Russian aggression, the US will be stationing a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper squadron along with an additional 1,000 troops.

During a White House press conference on the 12th June, President Donald Trump and the Polish President announced plans to send additional troops to Poland. The additional 1,000 troops will boost rotational troop numbers to around 5,500.


Soldiers conduct and after action review after the detonation of a Bangalore torpedo on the range near Camp Trzebien, Poland.

Credit: Sgt Jeremiah Woods/Army.


An M1 Abrams crossing an M60 Armoured vehicle Launched Bridge system, at a range near Camp Trzebien, Poland.

The Belief is that the presence of US military personnel in Poland strengthens Nato’s deterrence efforts.


An MQ-9 Reaper, sometimes known as a Predator D

Photo – By Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt.

The additional troops are likely to be pulled from Germany or an alternate location. It has been suggested that US special forces may also be sent to Poland.


The pentagon is preparing to send a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper squadron to Poland to collect Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information.

Photo credit – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc

The plan is to build the infrastructure to support an armoured brigade combat team and a combat aviation brigade and a combat sustainment support battalion. Although Poland has offered to spend $2 billion on a new division sized US military base on Poland’s eastern border, so far, Trump has stopped short of promising a permanent military presence.

Post copyrighted to Harvey Black

Military/Intelligence Bulletin 06/2019 – Hypersonic and Direct Energy weapons.

The US army has plans for a hypersonic missile battery and laser mounted Strykers.

The US military is planning on fielding its first hypersonic missile battery by 2023, along with a battery of Strykers equipped with 50 kW high-energy lasers by 2022.

This desire to field these new weapons is driven by the need to compete with China and Russia.


A Stryker with a 5 kW laser mounted on the rear. The US has made the decision to accelerate its development of the Multi-Mission High Energy Laser (MMHEL)

The US is looking to have one hypersonic battery in 2023 and by 2022 field four Strykers equipped with 50kW lasers.


A MEHEL-equipped Stryker. Capable of shooting drones out of the sky using a 5kw fibre laser.

The army is also teaming up with the US Navy to develop a launcher for the hypersonic missile. Work is already in progress looking for a possible ground based mobile launcher for the US Army.


A rendering of a Hypersonic missile.

Photo – Rand Corp.

One option for a transporter erector launcher (TEL) is using M870 trailers, integrating 2 launchers on each one. Or, using the M9834a. Existing command and control systems could be used, along with the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, to tie them together.


An M9834a towing a Patriot missile launcher. The Army’s hypersonic weapon system could use this same tractor to tow a trailer-mounted TEL

Photo credit – US Army


Post copyrighted to Harvey Black

Military/Intelligence Bulletin 05/2019 – Russian Lotos 120mm SPG

Russia presents Lotos, a self-propelled gun prototype .

The Rostec corporation, Russian state-owned, presented the first prototype of the Lotos 120mm self-propelled gun based on the BDM-4M tracked infantry fighting vehicle.


Lotos – Self-propelled gun based on the BMD-4M IFV

On the 5th June, they announced that the gun was fully equipped and ready to operate in the manual mode. The next stage would be around software development to further improve the operation of the main gun. It appears to also have a remote weapons station along with the soft-kill elements of the Afghanit active protection system.


Prototype of the Lotos 120mm SPG

Photo credit – Sputnik/Alexander VILF

During the roll-out ceremony, it drove at a speed of around 30kph, then elevated the barrel before firing its first round.

The Lotos weighs around 18 tonnes and has a top speed of 70kph. It has a crew of 4.

It’s artillery range is said to be 13km with a rate of fire in the region 6-8 rounds per minute.

The the turret and gun assembly resemble those fitted to the MTLB based 2S34.


Post copyrighted to Harvey Black