TechUkraine's daring drone attack targets Russia's lone 'White Swan' Bomber Base

Ukraine's daring drone attack targets Russia's lone 'White Swan' Bomber Base

Strategic Bomber Tu-160
Strategic Bomber Tu-160
Images source: © Getty Images | 2021 Anadolu Agency
12:03 PM EST, January 10, 2024

"Since 2021, Engels Air Base has been the sole Russian Federation site where strategic Tu-160 bombers are stationed. As of February 2022, the base has been used for large-scale air raids on Ukraine," we read on the Astra agency's Telegram profile. The alleged Ukrainian attack on the facility utilized two drones of an unknown type on the morning of Wednesday, January 10. The aftermath of the attack remains unclear, but Ukrainians assert that the drones fell onto the airport's premises. It stands to reason, therefore, that the target of the attack must have been the Tu-160 bombers.

Tu-160 Bombers at the Russian Air Base

Often referred to as the "White Swan", the Russian supersonic strategic bomber is the heaviest combat aircraft worldwide. This aircraft is incredibly valuable to the Russians; consequently, the base housing these machines are located more than 621 miles (rounded from 1000 km) away from Kyiv and at a significant distance from the front lines in Ukraine.

The Tu-160 boasts an imposing structure and is unique due to its variable-geometry wings. These allow the aircraft to perform supersonic flights while also helping reduce fuel consumption during flight.

The "White Swan's" history dates back to the 1980s, with the Tu-160's maiden flight in 1981. Mass production began six years later, in 1987, with an estimated 36 units by 2022. Propulsion is provided by four double-flow turbojet engines NK-32, each generating a thrust of over 31589 pounds (rounded from 137 kN) (55007 with an afterburner, rounded from 245 kN).

The Tu-160's wingspan changes based on their arrangement. With a 20-degree wing setting, the wings span 182.7 feet (rounded from 55.7 m), while maximum folding to 65 degrees reduces the wingspan to 116.8 feet (rounded from 35.6 m). The aircraft measures just over 177.1 feet in length (rounded from 54 m) and weighs 257,941 pounds (rounded from 117 metric tons). The plane can carry weapons weighing over 61729 pounds (rounded from 28 metric tons) and more than 308648 pounds of fuel (rounded from 140 metric tons). The take-off weight thus reaches up to 606271 pounds (rounded from 275 metric tons).

The bomber can reach a maximum speed of 1367 miles/h (rounded from 2200 km/h), with a cruising speed of 528 miles/h (rounded from 850 km/h). Its maximum altitude is 51213 feet (rounded from 15.6 km), while its achievable range in practice is over 7456 miles (rounded from 12 thousand km). The aircraft holds two bomb bays, each measuring 36.7x6.2 feet (rounded from 11.2x1.9 m). The standard aircraft version can accommodate 12 Ch-55 missiles or 24 Ch-15 rockets.

Engels Air Base
Engels Air Base© Google Maps
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