110 Russians Call It White Swan; Americans Call It Black Knave

Russians Call It White Swan; Americans Call It Black Knave

It is warm, the sky is blue, soft rumbling is heard from the most powerful turboprop engines in the world... We are at the airbase in Engel's. These are photos that you could never have hoped to see before. During the Soviet era, this was top, top, top secret stuff. But not anymore thanks to brave Russian bloggers who took their cameras with them when they visited this place. Are you ready to see the largest supersonic, variable wing geometry plane up close and uncensored? Let's take a look!


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This is the commander of this strategic Russian base. He is also a pilot and takes practice flights on an Ilyushin-78.

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110 Responses to “Russians Call It White Swan; Americans Call It Black Knave”

  1. dave says:

    just a couple of points
    110 roubles is not $30 it is more like $3 dollars
    The plane may gather is speed to outfly NATO planes but it cant outrun a rocket

    • alessio215 says:

      neither can Nato bombers outfly rockets

      • S. Ward says:

        First, nobody spoke of Nato bombers outflying anything, but this article mentioned outrunning escort fighters and being “invulnerable”. Outrunning a fighter is irrelevant, because in a conflict a fighter isn’t going to hit you…but his missile will. Second, many Nato fighters can keep up with the TU-160 just fine if they choose to expend the fuel to do so. The planes are impressive, but there are lots of other exaggerations in this article as well.

    • sanjay says:

      India has six of this plane in active service with Indian navy and none of these got crash till date even after active service of 30 to 35 years. Superb Russian Engineering.

      • Saif says:

        India does not have this plane. Indian Navy operates Tu-142 Anti sub marine warfare aircraft,which is a turbo prop. This is the Tu-160 strategic jet bomber.

    • katana says:

      neither can you nato buckets yankee boy.

    • katana says:

      neither can you nato buckets yankee boy.

    • Johnny BD says:

      Agreed, can’t outrun rocket nor outrun our Pigs (F-111’s) that we recently retired.

  2. geoff says:

    35 Tu-160’s have cost the community 8,750 million dollars. My country has just spent billions on US fighter planes.

    Our schools have a Fete with a cake stall (they beg) to raise money !…..We will have air force but no body that can read or write. So its easy for our government to frighten and manipulate people.

    Sorry but this is how I feel, it is the communities money, it should be spent on the community. Leaders want to fight, let them go fight.

  3. Mr. Fox says:

    Last two pics are impressing.

  4. ayaa says:

    “When these aircrafts fly in the neutral territory, they are accompanied by fighter interceptors of NATO.” Does this make much sense to any of you guys?

    • geoff says:

      No sense. If any escort, you would expect it would be Russian fighters. Not NATO

      • Matlok says:

        What it means is that they are intercepted by NATO aircraft, so that they don’t fly into NATO airspace. Just like back in the cold war. The same would be true if NATO aircraft approached Federation airspace. Kind of like back in the Cold War. I Myself have seen Soviet TU 95’s flying at very low altitude off the coast of the U.S. back in the eighties. They were just “snooping and pooping” so to speak.

      • Brazilski says:

        Actually the Dutch Royal Airforce frequently escorts Russian Bears out of Dutch airspace. It’s an escort as in showing someone where the door is, not a protective duty.

        It is the Russians that are getting “too close”, entering foreign airspace without any request for authorisation. However, it is just a pretty harmless game and keeps both Russian and NATO airforces sharp.

      • yojimbo says:

        I think that is a mis translation they mean to say fly out in non neutral territory (NATO).In the old day during the Cold War if a TU-95 was near say Alaska some US Air Force aircraft would fly up to “escort” really it was a show that (Soviet) “we can fly our plane here” and (USA)”we can see that you are coming and intercept you”. Back in 2008 I think it was, Russia sent a Tu-160 to Venezuela and it did get “escorted” the entire flight(outside Russia) by various Swede, British,and American aircraft depending on its location.You can even find some film shoot by both the fighters and inside the Tu-160 on the internet.In the old day sometimes the crews would wave at each other sometimes they would extend the middle finger!Always they took pictures.

        Two things I find not very efficient one is with the Tu-95s they still have the 23mm cannon that is simply a waste of weight surely they have modern counter measures the guns are useless the B-52 for example had the tail cannon removed in the late 80’s.The second thing is the Ground power units in Russia they are part of a Ural bad idea if the Ural breaks down you loose the power unit and then you are going to need another specially modified Ural.In the US our ground power units are separate and self contained this way they can be towed by any truck also this allows us to have several power units just waiting for use it is more efficient.The Russian military should very seriously consider copying the US system of ground power unit employment from direct experience in this line of work I can see that the current Russian set up is not efficient.

      • richard says:

        After Eurofighter foul up, NATO has no more new designs. Just remodeled Eurofighter, same on the outside, totally different on the inside. Reason: EU recession. No money to support military designs. If not, NATO would be in GAZA already preventing genocide.

    • YJ says:

      It’s neutral territory they shouldn’t escorted by anything out of their own will.

      • JJ Joseph says:

        Get real! The TU-95 is a cruise missile carrier. It will be followed wherever it goes. It’s just like driving an Abrams tank along the border of a neighboring country. You will be watched.

      • Hirsh says:

        Oh please… Escorts have every right to share the neutral airspace right alongside another nations weapon of war. It is as much their right as it is the Russians to fly their bombers in neutral airspace.

      • Hirsh says:

        lol, looks like Russians don’t feel it’s right for their airborne missile platforms to be escorted while menacing the border of another nations airspace. Too bad for them. :)

        • KATANA says:

          no more than they like being threatened by ILLEGALLY sited I.C.B.M’s in “nato pet poodle” countries like poland and romania. in direct contravention of international agreements.

      • S. Ward says:

        Since it’s neutral territory, anyone who wants to can fly there, including a fighter escort from another country.

        What is really happening is this “neutral territory” they are flying in is actually just a few kilometers or so out of NATO airspace. It’s a game they play, testing each other. They fly just outside of the border, and the NATO fighters demonstrate they saw the TU coming by meeting it there and flying alongside until they are away from the border. They don’t interfere with each other at all.

      • richard says:

        It’s also natural for the pen to be mightier than the sword. You know the meaning of “pen” – the type we keep sheep?

    • JJ Joseph says:

      Canada (flying for NORAD) follows (“escorts”?) Tu-95s when they track along the edge of Canadian airspace in the Arctic. Yes, they also wave farewell when the TU-95 moves along to the edge USA airspace. Canada was thrilled when the Russians pulled the Tu-95s out of storage and learned to fly them again. Canada’s air force hasn’t had so much fun in years!

  5. Alliance says:

    Air superiority fighter, resp. multirole combat aircraft(MRCA) Eurofighter, having a max. flight altitude of up to nearly 20,000 m and maximum speed of Mach 2,35, nearly 3,000 km/h.

    Can not shadow the Tu-160…? probably not. But pilots know how to avoid an incident with subsequent political banter, furthermore Cold War is over since the nineties.

    The Tu-144 as well is an amazing civil aircraft with its elegant appearance and the technological Know-How inside.

  6. George Johnson says:

    I can’t believe they still use those dual prop engines.
    US submarines can track them from hundreds of miles away, underwater. They just SO noisy.

    • Scrat says:

      Yeah right. I bet the submarine can do it while standing on its nose and stroking its torpedo too.

    • yojimbo says:

      That is a different version of the Tu-95 the Tu-142 is the maritime patrol version this is the Tu-95 in its role it is of no matter if a sub can hear its engines.Same basic air frame entirely different roles and to be honest the submarine is going to hear any aircraft anyway perhaps not an ASW heilo but any fixed wing it will and still it can hunt the sub.Just because the plane can be heard that does not make it a non threat.

    • katana says:

      the only “submarines” you would have any experience of sonny would be floating in a toilet.

  7. banditrider says:

    Tu-160 Operational ceiling: 15000 kilometers.
    Wow! That’s some ceiling! ;) Should be meters of course.

    • Joe says:

      Yes, according to them, its operational ceiling is 40.5 times the orbit height of the ISS. Half the height of GPS geostationary satellites, and higher than any US space shuttle or Buran flight! It cruises so high, it’s nearly 4% of the distance to the moon, right in the strongest part of the Van Allen belts. The pilots should get astronaut wings, and radiation pay, and they should really think about using it to -drop- satellites into orbit, and resupply the ISS!

      They also seem to think its maximum altitude is greater than its maximum range. Weird.

  8. Zonda says:

    “A double-barrelled gun GSh-23 is located in the rear of the aircraft.A range of a 23×115 milimeters bullet is 2 kilometers.” Very impressive… but for a plane from WWII maybe…

    • Muzzlehatch says:

      Several MiGs were shot down by USAF B-52 tailgunners during the Viet Nam conflict.

      • kukuk says:

        but the MiGs without AA missiles…

        • Luis Vargas says:

          F-14 was the only modern aircraft built without cannon, and now every modern fighter has internal cannon (including F-35, F-22, Gripen, Rafale, T-50, Su-35, etc.), for use in air to air (dogfight) or air to surface role.
          For close encounter would be useful the double barrelled gun in Tu-160.

  9. Rembo says:

    Black Jack (Knave) is more like “Evil Knight” than something invulnerable.

    • Anthony says:

      Agreed. McCarthyism never went completely away. No one in the states would ever call anything in any foreign military invulnerable, even if close allied nation. Its why they’re more proud of the Abrams tank than the Harrier for example.

      Knave is at most a backhanded, begrudging compliment, or sign or envy.

    • katana says:

      unlike what you talk sonny boy,which is evil shyte.

  10. Uncledoh says:

    absolutely nothing to be proud of those retro flying junk. it is only a matter of a short time until we hear in the news one of those had crashed. And that will be pretty much regrettable for the human lives

    • yojimbo says:

      You know nothing about aviation clearly the Tu-95 is a very good design just like the B-52 they both have lasted for years a well made air frame can last for years with the correct maintenance and with avionics upgrades.This is not some hunk of junk Airbus.

    • Anthony says:

      If you think something from 1984 is retro junk, you might not want to get on that next 737 or 747 flight…

    • NO MAME says:

      ..”nothing to be proud of those retro flying junk…”. Hahah! Then you shouldn’t be proud of most of the US Airforce! This plane is newer than most the USAF. Russia has actuallty newer models than the old F-15’s, F-16’s and F/A-18. And the troubled F-35 and the Russian SU T50 will be operational almost at the same time.

  11. Mister Dog says:

    Saw a few Bears during my time in the US Navy. They always had an escort of F-14s or F-18s.

  12. popalumi says:

    Da. Impresionant.Da pentru cine si pentru ce?(cum intreba si d-l presedinte Ion Iliesc.)

  13. eneils says:

    I was in the United States Navy in the Sixties. I was in the Mediterrain Sea on a US Navy ship when the B-52 and KC-135 collided over Polarmares, Spain. Our ship escorted two sea-going tugs, pulling barges laden with the plane’s cutup fuselages to a point off Greenland in Feburary of 1966 to dump the wreckage.
    Every day we were overflown by at least one TU-95 at a very low attitude(about 100 metres) so the Russian Technicans could stand in a half door on the TU-95 and take pictures of us and the wreckage on the barges.
    The TU-95 was an impressive plane when viewed that closely. We could always hear it coming, it always came in from the stern on the starboard side. We always got a good view of it up on the open bridge. It was very, very noisy plane.
    That was over forty five years ago, I can still visualize the TU-95 over us.

    • Hirsh says:

      It’s Crazy to think we used to fly them loaded for bear like that. What a mess it must have been to clean that one up, both physically and politically. Thanks for serving!

  14. j pigden says:

    Translation error – NATO designation Blackjack NOT Black Jack! A blackjack (or sap) is a leather covered, weighted weapon for striking at close range. When used properly, can break bones or even kill.
    The TU160 is the Russian version of the B1, which was cancelled. Size, load, performance, etc. are very similar, but bigger than, the original B1. The B1 was resurrected under Reagan as the B1B; different job, different engines, high subsonic in normal operation, only Mach 1.25 @ altitude. Paradigm shift from speed to stealth.

  15. stolichnaya says:

    So during the Soviet years billions of rubles were spent on these planes … no wonder the average Soviet citizen had to line up for toilet paper! The government was going broke trying to keep up with the arms race!

    • ayaa says:

      Yes. Like you would know the first thing about life back in the Soviet union.

      • katana says:

        he is just another example of an indoctrinated vacuum headed yankee college boy,a typical flock ovine,when one goes “baaaaaahhhh!” the rest bleat accordingly .

    • NO MAME says:

      …” The government was going broke trying to keep up with the arms race!…”. Then YOU should learn the lesson. Small wonder why the now US owes $18 Trillion and have a $5 Trillion Deficit EVERY YEAR! They outspend the next ten most military powerful nations combined. Tell me how much the Avergae US citizen owes today from their National Debt. Please don’t make angry your creditors from Communist China!

  16. Paul says:

    Considering the US is shifting to drones and can produce many drones for what a fighter or bomber cost. Only takes one stealthy drone to down one of these bombers. Seems rather pointless.. The current generation drones are getting more maneuverable and more stealthy making them even more lethal and cost effective.

    • Anthony says:

      Drone’s that can perform complex last minute decision making (abort, change of target) for bombing runs aren’t here yet. And just because a bomber can’t be shot down doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be flown, or even built.

      Heck, India and Russia are developing a hypersonic cruise missile together. Supersonic drones are here, but hypersonic drones… oh dear.

      Those current drones seem rather pointless. Seems like money wasted. Even non lethal and cost ineffective.

      • Paul says:

        That is as far as you know that is the current technology… Drones will be the dominate air power within the next decade. The limiting factor right now is the pilot, aircraft like the F-22 are severely limited by the pilot’s biological factors. I can safely say that the US is developing significant next generation and beyond drones, human and auto flown drones. The US already has hypersonic missiles and recon aircraft, drones are probably on the list.

        • Muzzlehatch says:

          The F-22 is severely limited by being a complicated, overpriced piece of crap.

          • MCLulz says:

            Lmao, I worked in the airforce for several years on base in north dakota. I was an F16 mechanic in the hanger next to the F-22’s. The F-22 SHITS on any fighter of today and it’s already over 10 years old. Trust me there are things you don’t know about this plane because the GOV won’t tell you it’s real potential. The specs of the original 12 production F-22 raptors are nothing like the updates given to them in secrecy over the years to keep it on top of the game. Try something like a APU powered turbo-pump for the afterburners flowing more than 100,000 ADDITIONAL G/PH, that should give you a guess as to the sheer bad-assery going on inside that Pratt engine. Only other thing I’d like to divulge without going into detail is that it can now give the SR-71 a run for it’s money in an all out speed race.

            • Joe says:

              100,000 gallons per hour additional? So with only that running the AB it would use up all 2630 internal gallons of kerosene in about 95 seconds, or 137 seconds with the drop tanks on? What is the purpose of such a high FF if you have to dead-stick land after 2 minutes or less? Or is that hi-flo beast of a pump for sucking gas INTO the F22?

            • NO MAME says:

              …”The F-22 SHITS on any fighter of today …”. Only when the plane can fly, but most of the time it’s grounded for “maintenance”. The F-35 is known to be inferior and more troubled.

  17. Ben says:

    Would love to have a go in the rear gunner position.

  18. Alexander Lopez says:

    Can someone translate what is written on the Blackjack’s side?

  19. Major Ed says:

    AS a retired SAC Aircraft Maintenance Officer, I appreciate this photo article. Thank you very much for posting it. I teach high school Junior ROTC – Aerospace Science – and this makes an interesting counterpoint to the US part of the equation.
    I had the privilege of going to the Moscow Air Show in 1991 with the SAC Contingent.
    I teach my students about the beauty of aircraft – and the importance of communication. A little more time spent communicating and a little less spent rattling sabers at each other would go a long way.
    And – all you happy armchair warriors up there on the comment list? – ever stood on a flightline and loaded a plane at -50F or at +110F? Ever loaded thermonuclear hell into an aircraft and wondered if you – or your country – will be alive next week?
    Yeah.
    Keep talking -or typing – your rants.
    I am SO glad we never carried out our missions. And I pray we never will.
    And if you’ve never walked where I’ve walked, then, most respectfully, Sierra-Tango-Foxtrot-Uniform!

  20. XyuH says:

    $30 for lunch? Did I read this right? S*it I can get double quarter pounder with extra large fries and super size coke for $6 at Mcdonalds

  21. Bui says:

    We Vietnamese used Russian aircraft but deafeded very mordern American aircaraft.

  22. the king says:

    All you have just said i saw is not bad so there is nothing more to add but if you have a question concerning good s…… area you can contact me.

  23. Mirwais khan says:

    Russian aircraft is one of the best in the world.

  24. Bhaskar Rao says:

    Operational ceiling: 15000 kilometers.
    Rate of climb: 4400 meters a minute.
    Really..???? That makes it a spaceship.. !!!

  25. Andrei Mironov says:

    B1 and Tu160 have different front view – this is surely Tu160.
    Then, about russian “idiots”, who can only copy.
    Beginning of the program: B1 – early 1970th, Tu160 – 1972.
    Weigh (max): B1 – 216 tons,Tu160 – 275 tons.
    Engines: B1 – 4×65 kN, Tu160 – 4×175 kN.
    Introduction: B1 – October 1986, Tu160 – April 1987.
    No futher comments.

  26. Amara Dukuly says:

    Stop spending astronomical amount of money on expensive military hardware.Spend it to eliminate poverty and human suffering.

  27. Agulhas Imbulu says:

    Gov’ts should use that huge amounts of money to alleviate poverty…………….

  28. EDGE says:

    The good post I see it so much responsive. I also like it.

  29. jasa seo murah says:

    Actually the Dutch Royal Airforce frequently escorts Russian Bears out of Dutch airspace. It’s an escort as in showing someone where the door is, not a protective duty.

    It is the Russians that are getting “too close”, entering foreign airspace without any request for authorisation. However, it is just a pretty harmless game and keeps both Russian and NATO airforces sharp

  30. Rob Fin says:

    Oh, please people for heavens sake. This plane is a copy of America’s B1-B bomber which has been in existence for 30 years. The B1-B, (though still in service) was replaced by the Bat Wing B2 Bomber which is by far the world’s most expensive and advance strategic bomber. This Russian plane is harmless and old tech.

    • NO MAME says:

      “…this plane is a copy of America’s B1-B..” hahah!! See the pictures. Those are completely different planes. This means you can’t recognize your oen plane. LOL. And if you weren’t the typical lazy ass American (jelous) kid, you can read that both design and tech are completely different too. And even if you cry, the TU160 is much better, Please keep showing off your envy.

  31. Oscar Goldman says:

    I love when jelous (and ignorant) kids from the US say this plane resembles the much more expensive (and inferior) B1-B. This means they have never seen a picture of their own (smaller and slower) bomber.

  32. HIll says:

    The US is without doubt the most hated nation on this planet, condemn Hitler but look what they did to the native american Indians the rightful residents. Look what they did to the Africans, look what they did to central America, Asia, Philippines, Africa. they are the only nation to have used the nuclear bomb not once but twice! Against a country that was trying to surrender.
    This nation has many hundreds of military bases spread around the globe over a thousand if you count the private military consultants/trainers under the umbrella of the CIA & USSOC ( United States Special Operations Command)
    constantly meddling in other countries buisness always looking at what new resources they can steal and how to remove non responsive (patriots) to install new compliant puppet leaders under their influence.
    We want the US, OUT of Europe, out of the Middle East, out of South East Asia, out of Australia, South/Central America…

    I have nothing against the American people, I blame your government if it was to use the money it spends for military domination on its own people and infrastructre it would be a much better place with free high standard medical care, education, employment and positive production. but instead it not only tries to enslave the planet but its own population too.
    We are told that terrorists are a huge threat in the US but in reality statics prove that you are much more likely to be murdered by a cop than you are by a terrorist (now theres food for thought!)

    As for the plane yes its nice but its end purpose is to wipe out people therefore I hate it!

    http://www.thenation.com/article/the-united-states-probably-has-more-foreign-military-bases-than-any-other-people-nation-or-empire-in-history/

  33. Hernando says:

    Desde Colombia los felicito por tan interesantes articulos.Las fotos son espectaculares.

  34. Andrea Gumbo says:

    Super genaration Russians will bring more.

  35. josh says:

    Hope there isn’t gonna be another World war

  36. kalisad says:

    USA is using what they democracy to threaten other countries direction as if it should be understood in same way. Democracy it’s not a stone that can never be broken. We do believe that democracy is good for every country, but must be applied to bring the best good for every community/society. it should be a box that contains more and more box suitable for the end-user.Suitability here meant nothing else but carrying each country’s national philosophy not other country’s ideas. U people you should know that not just pressuring every country for your own kind of democracy.

  37. Chukwuemeka Okeke says:

    @ Hill: Not what America has done to Africa, but what great harm America is still causing Africa. For instance, America is currently backing Hausa-Fulani Nigerian government to exterminate the indegeous people of Biafra who have chosen to embark on self-determination out of the contraption called Nigeria, which was created by the then British imperialist, Fredrick lord Lugard in 1914, following his amalgamation of the three major ethnic groups that separately existed on their own as sovereign regions and with their own names. Nigerian government through various means has been killing and maiming members of MASSOB and IPOB groups who have stood their grounds to actualizing sovereign state of Biafra. Sadly, America has turned blind eyes toward the killings being perpetrated on both MASSOB and IPOB members in Biafra land. I wish Russia makes quickest advancement militarily to checkmate America’s imperialistic might.

    • Hugh says:

      @Chukwuemeka Okeke
      Thank you for pointing this out I will look into this and try to bring the attention to friends and groups.

  38. Rajesh says:

    Are we at war, or going to have one. Show the US keep out where they don’t belong

  39. Richard says:

    Biggest and heaviest supersonic plane? I think all of you are forgetting Concorde. 16 planes built in the 1960’s which could carry 100 passengers, plus luggage etc. across the Atlantic at Mach 2.0, all the way. Purely European engineering and nothing to match it has ever been built.

  40. Jasper says:

    I think this plane is better but not the best coz Americans have more other planes which are better than this one but its also a good plane.

  41. Jerry says:

    It’s not a turboprop maybe it’s a turbofan? doh!

  42. Hugh says:

    Once weapons were made to fight wars, now wars are started to make, weapons.
    a country caught in a war economy is like a snake eating itself from the tail up (sooner or later it will lose its head!)
    Who cares how fast or how much destruction it can cause
    for what good is this when everyone’s dead, all your family, friends, loved ones, gone.
    All will end when the power for hate over balances the power of love, it all comes down to the math.

  43. North Ash says:

    There are only about 16 in service.

  44. John c says:

    Whoever wrote this article needs remedial English classes, the standard of grammar and syntax is AWFUL!!

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