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The Tu-16 was designed as an high-speed jet bomber for operations in theaters close to the Soviet Union. Intended to replace the propeller-driven TU-4, the greatest challenge during development was to doubling the speed to improve survivability in the face of enemy fighters.

OKB A.N. Tupolev started working on the design of a new jet bomber soon after development of the TU-4 was completed. The resulting design "82" consisted of a swept-wing aircraft with RD-45F or VK-1 turbojet engines. The bomber was supposed to have a speed of Mach 0.9-0.95 with a range and payload were comparable to the TU-4.

After the bomber's operational characteristics were coordinated with the military, the government officially approved the development of the "82" aircraft in 1948. The prototype, which was the first Soviet aircraft with swept-wings, made its' first flight on 24 March1949. It reached a speed of 934 km/h, 20 percent faster than the TU-14 which also had BK-1 engines. The "82" design was initially supposed to serve as the basis for the "83" bomber, but with the start of serial production of the Il-28, the project was dropped.

Based on the results of the "82" aircraft, in 1950 OKB Tupolev started developing the "492" heavy long-range bomber that had a better performance than the TU-4 and the Il-28. The design provided for a bomb load of 6000 kg, a range of 7,500 km, a speed of 1000 km/h and a ceiling of 12000-13000 m. The maximum bomb load could be increased up to 12000kg. The aircraft could be outfitted with three different types of engines: two AM-3 engines with a thrust of 8750 kg, 4 engines ТR-3A engines (5000 kg) or 4 TR-5 two circuit engines (5000 kg). As the TR-5 engines were the most reliable at that time, Tupolev was charged with the development of an experimental long-range bomber (project "88") equipped with two TR-5 engines. However, work on the AM-3 engines continued and was completed in August 1951.

The wings of the Badger are mid-mounted, swept-back, and tapered with blunt tips. There are fences on top of the wings and its landing gear pods extend beyond the wings� trailing edges. The Badger's engine(s) are two turbojets mounted in wing roots which extend beyond the leading and trailing edges of the wing root. The engines also have round air intakes. Its fuselage is long, slender, and bulging where the engines are mounted and tapered to the tail. It has a round, glassed-in nose and a stepped cockpit. The tail is swept-back, tapered fin and flats with blunt tips. The Badger also has a tail gunner compartment. All models of Badger are equipped for aerial refueling.

The first prototype of the "88" aircraft received the designation Tu-16 and carried out the first flight on 27 April 1952. During flight tests, the aircraft exceeded the expected speed but lagged in range due to insufficient engine performance. As a result, the second prototype had a reduced weight though less speed at small and medium altitudes. In April 1953 it actually exceeded the expected range.

In December 1952, series production was initiated. In 1953 series production of the TU-16 began at the plant Nr. 22 in Kazan and in 1954, also at the plant Nr.1 in Kuibyshev and at the plant Nr. 64 in Voronezh. During production, the aircraft were outfitted with a modified AM-3 engine - the PD-3MT. While the bombers were already operational, the AM-3 and PD-3M engines were replaced by PD-3M-500 engines with improved characteristics. When production of the TU-16 finally stopped in 1963, a total of 1509 aircraft had been built.

Deployment of the first TU-16 bombers started in 1954. They replaced the TU-4, operating in theaters close to Soviet territory.

The TU-16 remained in Soviet and later Russian service until 1993. They were used during the war in Afghanistan. The Badger is used by Egypt, Iraq, the People�s Republic of China (H-6), and Ukraine. In 1958, delivery of TU-16 bombers to China began, where series production received the designation H-6. In the summer of 1961, twenty TU-16KS were sold to Indonesia. In the 1960s, TU-16 bombers were delivered to Egypt which also received TU-16KS aircraft in 1967 and Tu-16K-11-16 in 1973. Iraq also received TU-16K-11-16 bombers in the 1960s.


Design Bureau OKB-156 Tupolev
Manufacturer Plant Nr.22 Kazan
Plant Nr. 1 Kuinyshevs
Plant Nr. 64 Voronezh
Power Plant 2 AM-3A Turbojet engines
2 PD-3M Turbojet engines
2 PD-3M-500 Turbojet engines
Thrust 8,750 kg each
9,500 kg each
9,500 kg each
Length 34.8
Height 10.36
Wingspan 33m
Wing surface 164.65 sqm
  • TU-16 - 900-950km/h (cruise) / 1050km/h (maximum)
  • TU-16K - 750-850km/h
  • Ceiling 12,800m
    Weight (empty) 37,200kg
    Fuel weight 36,000kg
    Maximum take-off weight 79,000kg
    Normal load 3,000kg
    Maximum load 9,000kg
    Operational Range 5,800km (with a load of 3.000kg)
    4,850km (with 2 missiles underneath the wings)
    Range 7,200 km
    Aircraft Model Operational Wt.
    Empty (lbs)
    Payload (lb)Altitude Over
    Target (ft)
    Speed Cruise/
    Combat (kn)
    Badger A83,50011,2001,45010-30,00040,400445/500bomber
    Badger B90,3009,3001,00012,00015,000445/480Kennel ASM
    Badger C86,60010,3001,3509,10039,400445/480Kipper ASM
    Badger D88,84011,370n.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.ELINT Recce
    Badger E85,00011,570n.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.Photo Recce
    Badger F87,00011,570n.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.Photo/ELINT
    Badger G86,0009,4601,10017,62038,100445/495ASM
    Badger H83,50011,200n.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.ECM/Chaff
    Badger J83,50011,200n.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.ECM/Jammer
    Badger K83,50011,200n.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.ELINT

    Historical Review - Western Estimates

    Estimated start of flight testing1953
    First discovery
    Badger A1953
    Badger BJuly 1961
    Badger CJuly 1961
    Badger DSeptember 1964
    Badger EJanuary 1963
    Badger F1959
    Badger GJuly 14, 1966
    Badger HMarch 1965
    Badger JMarch 1965
    Badger KSeptember 1968
    Estimated start of series production1953
    Public display in significant numbersMay 1, 1954
    Initial operational capability1954
    Significant operational capability1955

    Sources and Resources

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    Maintained by Steven Aftergood
    Updated Tuesday, August 08, 2000 5:40:16 PM