The turboprop-powered Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber entered service in 1956 and remains an important part of Russia's long range air power.
The current bomber/missile carrier version is the Tu-95MS Bear-H. This entered service in 1984 and was manufactured until 1992. There are two subvariants, both based on the maritime Tu-142. The Tu-95MS16 Bear-H16 carries 16 long-range air-launched cruise missiles (six internally and ten externally). The Tu-95MS6 Bear-H6 is the more numerous version, with provision for external missile carriage deleted in accordance with the SALT/START treaties. About 60 Tu-95s of both variants are based with heavy bomber regiments at Engels and Ukrainka. This total includes three aircraft formerly held in Ukraine.
Russia plans to add the Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles and Kh-SD air-to-surface missiles to the inventory of the Tu-95MS to improve their conventional long-range precision strike capability. The air force also operates 11 earlier-model Tu-95KUs as trainers.
The Tu-142 Bear-F was designed primarily for anti-submarine warfare and a variety of naval roles. Around 40 examples equip a single Russian naval aviation regiment at Kipelovo, assigned to the Northern Fleet. The major anti-submarine warfare variants are the Tu-142MK Bear-F Mod 3 and improved Tu-142M-Z Bear-F Mod 4, the last of which was completed in 1994. The Tu-142MR Bear-J is a command post/communications relay platform for communicating with submerged nuclear-missile armed submarines. Such is the importance of the Tu-142 in Russian service, that surviving Bear-F Mod 4 airframes are likely to be updated with Leninets Sea Dragon system, which includes a new radar,
low-light-level TV, forward-looking infra-red, new sonobuoys, revised electronic surveillance measures and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) systems, and an armament of up to eight Kh-35 (AS-20 Kayak) anti-ship missiles for an extended ASV/ASW role. The only Tu-142 export operator is the Indian navy which has seven Tu-142 MK-Es at Arrakonam. These are broadly similar to the Bear-F Mod 3, but have certain downgraded systems.