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Does India Need Russian TU-160, Nuclear Capable, Strategic Bombers To Counter China?

Currently, Russia has 16 TU-160 aircraft. The aircraft was built to deliver conventional and nuclear weapons. Does India need TU-160 strategic bombers?

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Does India need a strategic bomber like the Russian TU-160 which can counter the growing fleet of Chinese bombers? The Russian supersonic bomber TU-160 also called White Swan is the most powerful and largest missile carrier in the world.

TU-160 is called White Swan because a white reflective coating is applied to the bomber. This protects the crew as the plane can carry nuclear warheads whose explosion creates a bright fireball which emits thermal energy.

As EurAsian Times reported citing reports from the Pentagon that the Chinese air force “has been reassigned a nuclear mission”, and is working on long-range strategic bombers to deliver nuclear weapons and India could be one of the possible targets.

“The deployment of nuclear-capable strategic bombers would, for the first time, provide Beijing with a nuclear ‘triad’ of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air,” it said.

China already fields the nuclear-capable Xian H-6K bomber, with a range of 3,500 kilometres — enough to strike targets deep into India. China is now developing a “stealthy, long-range strategic bomber with a nuclear delivery capability that could be operational within the next 10 years, ” according to Pentagon.

India claims to have a “nuclear triad”, but its air-delivered capability is temporary, based on tactical fighter aircraft like the Jaguar and Mirage-2000 and yet to be acquired Rafale jets.

Experts talking to EurAsian Times explain that New Delhi neither has, nor is developing nor contemplating long-range strategic bombers that China is building or something which global powers like the US and Russia already possess.

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Does India need a strategic bomber like TU-160? EurAsian Times analyses the TU-160 for our readers to analyze whether India needs the strategic bomber?

History: TU-160

The TU-160 was first brought in service by Russia in 1987. The aircraft was manufactured by Tupolev aircraft research and engineering complex joint-stock company of Moscow and Kazan-Gorbunov Aircraft Production Association in Tatarstan from 1980 to 1992.

Currently, Russia has 16 TU-160 aircraft. The aircraft was built to deliver conventional and nuclear weapons. It has an all-weather, day-night capability and can operate at all geographical latitudes.

Achievements and Upgrades: Tu-160

In 2008 two Tu-160 bombers made the first transatlantic flight from Murmansk to Venezuela, on a training mission. In June 2010, two Russian Tu-160 bombers completed a record-breaking 23hr patrol covering 18,000km of flight range. The bombers flew by the borders of Russia over the Arctic and Pacific Oceans and finally landed at Engels base in the Volga region.

Tupolev completed bench tests of modernised avionics complex for the Tu-160 bomber in March 2013. A Tu-160 aircraft with upgraded airborne radar and navigation equipment made the first flight on 16 November 2014. It entered service with the Russian Air Force in December 2014.

The Tu-160 can carry nuclear and conventional weapons including long-range nuclear missiles. The missiles are accommodated on multi-station launchers in each of the two weapons bays.

The Tu-160 is capable of carrying the twelve strategic cruise missile Kh-55MS which has maximum range is 3,000km, and it is armed with a 200kt nuclear warhead. The plane can also carry Kh-15P, which has a range of up to 200km.

The Kickback can be fitted with a conventional 250kg warhead or a nuclear warhead. The aircraft is also capable of carrying a range of aerial bombs with a total weight up to 40t.

Russia is also looking to include the hypersonic missile system Kinzhal which will considerably increase the destruction radius. The missiles fly at speed of Mach 5 and are almost undetectable thereby increasing its fatalness.

Avionics and Variants:  Tu-160

The aircraft is highly computerised and the avionics systems include an integrated aiming, navigation and flight control system, with navigation and attack radar, an electronic countermeasures system, and automatic controls.

The Tu-160 uses fly-by-wire controls. The aircraft is equipped with three-strut landing gear, a tailwheel and a brake parachute. For take-off, the aircraft requires a 3.5km runway of solid concrete. The crew of the Tu-160 comprises a pilot, co-pilot, a navigator and an operator.

The crew is equipped with zero ejection seats, which provide the crew with the option of ejecting safely throughout the entire range of altitudes and airspeeds including when the aircraft is stationary. The Tu-160 has a control stick for flight control similar to the one in a fighter aircraft – rather than control wheels or yokes, which are usually used in large transporter or bomber aircraft.

The Tu-160 has eight variants: Tu-160S, Tu-160V, Tu-160 NK-74, Tu-160M, Tu-160P, Tu-160PP, Tu-160R and Tu-160SK. Tu-160V is an upgraded version which uses liquid hydrogen as fuel while Tu-160 NK-74 is an advance version powered by NK-74 engines.Tu-160M can accommodate two additional long-range, hypersonic Kh-90 missiles. Tu-160P, also known as Tu-161, is a long-range escort or interceptor aircraft. Tu-160SK is an upgraded commercial version principally used to launch satellites within the Burlak system.

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The Tu-160 can climb at a rate of 70m per second. The maximum and cruise speeds of the bomber are 2,220km per hour and 960km per hour, respectively. The range of the aircraft is 12,300km. Its combat radius is 7,300km. The service ceiling is 16,000m. The Tu-160 has a flight endurance of 15 hours. The aircraft weighs around 110,000kg and its maximum take-off weight is 275,000kg.

Does India Need Strategic Bombers?

As far as nuclear deterrence goes, outnumbering China’s strategic bombers and missiles would almost be an impossible task in the foreseeable future. For conventional strategic bombing too, given the territorial vastness of China, the numbers required would be humongous.

However, given the fact that Chinese bombers can reach most of the Indian cities, airports and defence facilities, New Delhi would be keen to have a strategic bomber like the TU-160, capable threatening both China and Pakistan while getting the Indian Air Force its due recognition of a global aerospace power.

The analysts conclude by saying that having strategic bombers may not be a top priority for New Delhi for now, however, Indian defence experts would be keenly monitoring rapid development of Chinese bombers and at some point, would have to reconsider their strategy.

Americas

India Bets Big On Nikki Haley To Emerge As Vice Presidential Candidate Under Trump

Nikki Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.  

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India has pinned hopes on Nikki Haley to become the US Vice President (VP) should Donald Trump get re-elected this November. Haley, a first-generation Indian American, is expected to strengthen Indo-American relation and also attract a lot of voters including women and minorities.

According to the reports, there is speculation that Trump might switch out Vice-President Mike Pence for Nikki Haley as his running mate in the hopes of boosting his lagging approval numbers among the broader electorate.

Despite resigning as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Haley has been active in politics. She has been fundraising for Republican congressional candidates as well as in the Senate and gubernatorial arena.

She has set up a non-profit organization to boost her policy priorities and has continued to pen editorials on foreign policy. And Hailey has retained a small, tightly knit orbit of advisers.

The former governor of South Carolina, Haley is one of the people who left the Trump Administration on good terms. She has even promised to campaign for the President for his re-election bid.

Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, Haley’s recent moves can be seen as a carefully executed plan to stay involved in key Republican policy circles and the national discourse. Haley has fundraised for almost a dozen Republican Senate candidates, many of them in tough re-election races, and has been a special guest at Republican Governors Association (RGA) events.

While Haley has dismissed reports about her running for VP, her being an influential person of colour could help Trump win constituencies he is currently losing.

India pinning hopes on Nikki Haley

The US Presidential elections are a spectacle observed globally and India would be hoping Trump wins and Haley gets elected as the VP. Haley enjoys nationwide popularity amongst Indian-Americans and her election as VP could lead to stronger ties between Washington and New Delhi.

She has natural links to India with her parents having emigrated to the US in the 1960s from Punjab. Haley has often pointed out that India is an example of a free government and recently even applauded New Delhi’s decision to ban 59 Chinese applications and for standing up to China.

With an Indian-American at the helm of affairs, New Delhi would see it as an opportunity to get closer to Washington. It could lead to India benefitting in the areas of trade, defence and investment and would be a huge blow to neighbours China and Pakistan.

US Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in November and will be contested between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. While Biden’s re-election does not mean that India and the United States will have weak relations, having Trump in the White House and Haley as VP would definitely lead to stronger Indo-American ties.

Armaan Srivastava. Views Personal

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Americas

Russian T-14 Armata Tanks Now On Sale; Hopes To Challenge US’ M1 Abrams

The T-14 is part of the Armata’s heavily tracked standardized platform, which serves as the basis to develop the main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier and other armoured vehicles.

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Russia’s T-14 Armata tank will be up for sale from 2021. This was announced by Denis Manturov – Industry and Trade Minister of Russia. He said that they are already receiving requests for the deadly T-14 Armata tanks from several foreign customers.

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The T-14 is part of the Armata’s heavily tracked standardized platform, which serves as the basis to develop the main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier and other armoured vehicles. It has fully digitized equipment, an unmanned turret and an isolated armoured capsule for the crew.

“Russian producers are ready to offer potential buyers both air defence systems, such as the S-300 and the S-400 and advanced aircraft and helicopters,” explained Dmitry Shugayev, Head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation.

“We are preparing the MiG-35 light fighter for sale and are promoting the latest T-14 ‘Armata’ tank,” he added.

The Armata T-14 was first demonstrated during the Victory Day Parade in May 2015 in Moscow. The actual production of the tanks was delayed. The first nine T-14 Armatas were originally planned to be handed over to the Russian Ground Forces (RGF) in 2018. This date then got pushed to 2019 and then to 2020.

Russia hopes that the T-14 Armata tank will give a tough competition to America’s M1 Abrams that destroyed thirty-seven of the Soviet-designed T-72s during the 1991 Gulf War.

T-72s remain Russia’s primary battle tank, supplemented by turbine-engine T-80s and four hundred more advanced T-90s. According to Sébastien Roblin, an expert on security and militarywhile Russia may finally have a 125-millimetre sabot round that can threaten Western main battle tanks at the range, only its handful of new T-14s tank are capable of actually using it.

Experts claim that the 2A82 gun could be retrofitted to numerous older T-90s and T-72s so far appear not to have materialized.

Despite Russia’s defence spending, the Russian military has continued with the production of the new tank. The production is overseen by Rostec Corporation, the Moscow conglomerate that specializes in consolidating strategically important companies in Russia’s defence sector.

It has undergone field testing in Syria. Although the extent of testing and the results are still unclear, a Russian media outlet suggested that “one Armata was completely destroyed.” There’s no confirmation on that but it might not look good to its buyers.

“It [the T-14 Armata tank] is expensive because it is still undergoing extra trials and modernization after the defence ministry requested additional technical solutions in order to begin serial supplies starting from the next year under the existing contract,” said Manturov in April this year.

He further said that next year, when serial supplies of these tanks to the defence ministry are launched and an export certificate is obtained, they will begin to work with foreign clients. “Preliminarily, bearing in mind that we cannot provide all the documentation to our foreign clients. We do have preliminary orders,” he added.

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Americas

US-China Tensions: US Wants India To ‘Match Its Weight By Actions’ In The South China Sea – Experts

Tensions between the US and China increased when the US deployed two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea with a clear message to Beijing that it doesn’t welcome China’s belligerence in the region.

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Amid inflating tension between the US and China, the US administration is keen that India should play a vital role in the South China Sea and match its weight by actions.

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Recently, the US deployed two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea with a clear message to Beijing that it doesn’t welcome China’s belligerence with its neighbours and increasing the regional tensions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry, in response, accused the US of deliberately sending its ships to the South China Sea so that it can demonstrate its strength and accused the US of trying to create a rift between the regional countries.

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This is not the first time that the US and China have been engaged in muscle-flexing in the region. Experts say that the situation is slightly different this time as the coronavirus epidemic has drastically increased tension between the two nations.

The South China Sea which lies between Indonesia and Vietnam is spread over about 3.5 million square kilometers. China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have claims over the waters which is believed to be high on natural resources.

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After the vicious India-China border dispute, there have been talks that India could play an active role in the South China Sea. India considers the South China Sea as a neutral place and believes that this neutrality should be maintained as these waters do not belong to any particular country.

Experts believe that India has come close to the US due to degenerating ties with China, but it is not correct to assume that India will play a very big role in the South China Sea. Experts say that – the US views India as a massive regional force and wants New Delhi to challenge the Chinese aggressively, something the Indian government is not too interested in.

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Experts recall that when Obama came to India in 2015, New Delhi said that it was committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and Beijing was quick to denounce the Indian statement.

After that, India never directly mentioned the issue by taking the name of China. On various occasions, India has talked about China’s expansionism but without naming it directly, which clearly suggests that New Delhi does not want to offend Beijing.

Russian Technicians Keeping INS Vikramaditya Battle Ready Amid Flaring Regional Tensions

Recently as EurAsian Times reported, India permitted Australia to join the annual trilateral Malabar naval exercise involving India-Japan-USA. With Australia joining in, this could cement the QUAD alliance which Beijing considers as an anti-China grouping.

The decision to allow Australia to be a part of exercise comes at the heels of Chinese hostility in Galwan Valley, South China Sea (SCS) and the Strait of Taiwan. According to experts, the addition of Australia could re-activate the Quadrilateral Alliance (QUAD) between Australia, India, Japan and the US, which New Delhi had been avoiding so far.

OpED By Nitin J Ticku. Views Personal

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