Tu-160 Goodness

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MKSheppard
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Tu-160 Goodness

Post by MKSheppard » 2008-10-07 05:24pm

So I was reading Yefim Gordon's book on the Tu-160; and it had some interesting tidbits:

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Unlike their American colleagues flying the B-1 B, Tu-160 pilots never mastered ultra-low-level terrain-following flight, and far from all Blackjack crews were trained in IFR procedures which gave the aircraft its intended intercontinental range
So; in summary. The Russians if they had attacked us in 1990, would have flown their Tu-160s in at altitudes in excess of 55,000 feet; making interception of them a real swine -- USAF regulations prohibit operation above FL55 unless you're wearing a pressure suit.

Secondly, they had plans for PEAK OIL:
Tu-160V bomber project

By far the most radical modification of the Blackjack proposed in the 1980s would have resulted in what was, in effect, a completely new aeroplane. Much has been reported on airliner projects utilising cryogenic fuel - liquid hydrogen (LH2) or liquefied natural gas (LNG); the feasibility of the concept has been proved by the Soviet Tu-155 research aircraft - a heavily modified Tu-154 (CCCP-85035) which first flew on 15th April 1988. But have you ever heard of a cryoplane bomber? This is exactly what the projected Tu-160V would have been; the V stood for vodorod - hydrogen.

Apart from the powerplant consisting of jet engines adapted for running on hydrogen, the Tu-160V featured a new fuselage which was of necessity much bulkier in order to accommodate the heat-insulated LH2 tanks and inert gas pressurisation system
Also, some old fashioned cold war goodness:
The Western intelligence community maintained a close interest in the Tu-160, especially its mission equipment, long before the aircraft entered service. The Soviet counter-intelligence service (the notorious KGB) was extremely alarmed to discover a self-contained signals intelligence (SIGINT) module near Priluki AB in the spring of 1988.

Disguised as a tree stump, the thing monitored and recorded air-to-ground radio exchanges and other signals emitted by the aircraft operating from the base. It was never ascertained who had planted the module, but countermeasures were not slow in coming: operational Tu-160s were provided with 'nightcaps' made of metal-coated cloth which were placed over the nose on the ground to contain electromagnetic pulses. As a bonus, these covers protected the ground personnel from harmful high-frequency radiation when the avionics were tested on the ground.
As is usually the case on such occasions, a flying display was staged; it included two more Tu-160s which were parked elsewhere on the base. When the bombers (captained by Vladimir Grebennikov and Aleksandr Medvedev) were due to taxi out for their demonstration flight, a single engine would not start on each aircraft (!). Realising the embarrassment that would result if the demo flight was cancelled for this reason, the VVS top command authorised the crews to take off on three engines - which is exactly what they did. The flights went well, thanks as much to excellent airmanship as to the Blackjack's good flying qualities.

Nevertheless, the fact that only three of each bomber's engines were emitting the characteristic orange efflux did not escape the attention of the US Air Force representatives, who demanded an explanation. Worried though he was about the situation, Long-Range Aviation Commander Col. Gen. Pyotr S. Deynekin answered with a straight face that the Tu-160's engines had several operational modes, not all of which were characterised by a smoke trail.

It is not known whether the Americans believed him; indeed, it would appear hardly improbable that ordinary service pilots would run the risk of taking off with one engine dead. However, even if they had guessed the truth and had the grace to say nothing, they surely acknowledged that the Soviet pilots were real pros.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Sidewinder » 2008-10-07 09:03pm

MKSheppard wrote:
Unlike their American colleagues flying the B-1 B, Tu-160 pilots never mastered ultra-low-level terrain-following flight, and far from all Blackjack crews were trained in IFR procedures which gave the aircraft its intended intercontinental range
So; in summary. The Russians if they had attacked us in 1990, would have flown their Tu-160s in at altitudes in excess of 55,000 feet; making interception of them a real swine -- USAF regulations prohibit operation above FL55 unless you're wearing a pressure suit.
Let me see if I got this straight: the Tu-160 would've been difficult to intercept because it would've flown at an altitude that few USAF jets were equipped to reach, but the Soviets/Russians were unlikely to have Tu-160s launch attacks against CONUS because the Soviet/Russian pilots can't perform the inflight refueling necessary to let the Tu-160 reach CONUS?

I'm reminded of Mr. Wong's comment that a rifle with perfect accuracy is only as accurate as the person firing it, or in this case, a strategic bomber is only as strategic as the amount of training its pilots receive.
Secondly, they had plans for PEAK OIL:
Considering that not one nation (or coalition of nations) on Earth has successfully developed techniques for producing, storing, and safely using hydrogen to propel anything other than dumb rockets, I doubt the Soviet/Russian plan to develop a hydrogen-fueled bomber would've gotten/will get anywhere before 2020.
Please do not make Americans fight giant monsters.

Those gun nuts do not understand the meaning of "overkill," and will simply use weapon after weapon of mass destruction (WMD) until the monster is dead, or until they run out of weapons.

They have more WMD than there are monsters for us to fight. (More insanity here.)

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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by MKSheppard » 2008-10-07 09:34pm

Sidewinder wrote:Let me see if I got this straight: the Tu-160 would've been difficult to intercept because it would've flown at an altitude that few USAF jets were equipped to reach, but the Soviets/Russians were unlikely to have Tu-160s launch attacks against CONUS because the Soviet/Russian pilots can't perform the inflight refueling necessary to let the Tu-160 reach CONUS?
Uhm. Read that passage again. They had pilots trained for In flight refuelling, but it was by no means 100% throughout teh fleet, unlike the USAF. In fact, IFR is relativly new to the Russians....
Considering that not one nation (or coalition of nations) on Earth has successfully developed techniques for producing, storing, and safely using hydrogen to propel anything other than dumb rockets, I doubt the Soviet/Russian plan to develop a hydrogen-fueled bomber would've gotten/will get anywhere before 2020.
:roll:

Wrong. The Soviets flew hydrogen fuelled airliner derivatives.
The Tu-155 used first hydrogen,(reg. number CCCP-85035) then later Liquefied natural gas (LNG), as fuel for its starboard engine. Its maiden flight was on April 15th, 1988. It flew until 1992 and was placed in storage.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Kanastrous » 2008-10-07 09:48pm

From Wikipedia, FWIW

Tu-155/Tu-156

Two prototypes based on this aircraft are the hydrogen- or natural gas-powered Tu-155 and Tu-156. The Tu-155 used first hydrogen,(reg. number CCCP-85035) then later Liquefied natural gas (LNG), as fuel for its starboard engine. Its maiden flight was on April 15th, 1988.[14] It flew until 1992 and was placed in storage. It used the Kuznetsov NK-86 engines. The Tu-156 never made it past the mock-up stage. All three engines were to burn either hydrogen or natural gas. Cryogenics technology is used to store the liquid fuel in the Tu-155 and Tu-156.


The hydrogen/LNG engine really only flew as part of a testbed aircraft with two regular kerosene-fueled engines.

Plans to actually fly an aircraft on hydrogen or LNG propulsion alone, did not come to fruition.

Assuming that the entry is current.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-10-07 10:11pm

The hydrogen/LNG engine really only flew as part of a testbed aircraft with two regular kerosene-fueled engines.
Yeah, but since all engines on the airliner were stock-standard, they all could've been replaced by the very same LNG engine tested in the starboard motor of the Tu-155. For the goals of testing LNG propulsion, one engine sufficed. The only reason why LNG liners were not created were the downfall of USSR and the lack of gas liquifying plants to get to an industrial stage fast.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Kanastrous » 2008-10-07 10:26pm

Stas Bush wrote:
The hydrogen/LNG engine really only flew as part of a testbed aircraft with two regular kerosene-fueled engines.
Yeah, but since all engines on the airliner were stock-standard, they all could've been replaced by the very same LNG engine tested in the starboard motor of the Tu-155. For the goals of testing LNG propulsion, one engine sufficed. The only reason why LNG liners were not created were the downfall of USSR and the lack of gas liquifying plants to get to an industrial stage fast.
Isn't there specialized support equipment involved in running an LNG turbine engine? How much modification of the aircraft would have been required, to fly it full time on LNG with three engines, as opposed to carrying one engine as a test article?
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-10-07 10:39pm

Kanastrous wrote:Isn't there specialized support equipment involved in running an LNG turbine engine?
Yeah, and such equipment was installed on the Tu-155 already. There's little difference between running 1 engine and 3, since all are fed from the same fuel tank.
How much modification of the aircraft would have been required, to fly it full time on LNG with three engines, as opposed to carrying one engine as a test article?
Tu-155: the flying lab.
Image
Tu-156: the passenger liner.
Image
Which special systems were installed on Tu-155? One, LNG refuelling system to re-fuel the tank. Two, pipes which feed gas from tank to engine - would be identical for all three engines. Three, a fire extinguisher system against LNG fires. And four, a control and measurement systems - which were necessary to observe parameters on Tu-155, but would not be necessary on a serial airliner with LNG propulsion.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Kanastrous » 2008-10-08 12:43am

Wow. Illustrations, and everything!
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Count Chocula » 2008-10-08 12:47am

Tu-160. Paper Tiger. RAR!

Still, it's a sweet ride. Beats shit out of the Cessnas I usually drive. If I could afford the gas. :(
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Count Chocula » 2008-10-08 12:48am

PS Is it me, or is the TU-155 a Boeing 727 with rough-field landing gear?
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Stark » 2008-10-08 12:50am

Count Chocula wrote:Tu-160. Paper Tiger. RAR!

Still, it's a sweet ride. Beats shit out of the Cessnas I usually drive. If I could afford the gas. :(
What a fascinating contribution!

Stas, were there any other LNG testbeds or plans? As you say this particular configuration is the easiest for 'conversions' since it has a single fueltank directly in front of the engines.

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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-10-08 01:08am

Stark wrote:Stas, were there any other LNG testbeds or plans?
Tu-136 - a midrange cargo-passenger liner with 2 LNG engines was completed as a project, and as I gather an experimental engine for it was assembled. The project is still being propped by Tupolev with the risin fuel prices and all that.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Count Chocula » 2008-10-08 01:09am

Stark, there are two principal drawbacks to using LNG to fuel aircraft (a quick Google search turned up only the TU-155 testbed): the weight of the container and the specific energy of the LNG.

LNG, to be stored and used in any significant quantity, needs a pressure vessel. My propane tank is an example. In an airframe, that adds a LOT of weight, the aero engineers' bane.

Per this link, LNG has a volume of about 50% more per metric ton, further limiting the amount that can be carried into the air. While LNG has a higher BTU value per pound than kerosene (22,300 vs. 19,800 BTU), the weight and volume penalties more than offset the higher energy content.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Count Chocula » 2008-10-08 01:11am

Wups, volume of the LNG.
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Stark » 2008-10-08 01:16am

Count Chocula wrote:Stark, there are two principal drawbacks to using LNG to fuel aircraft (a quick Google search turned up only the TU-155 testbed): the weight of the container and the specific energy of the LNG.

LNG, to be stored and used in any significant quantity, needs a pressure vessel. My propane tank is an example. In an airframe, that adds a LOT of weight, the aero engineers' bane.

Per this link, LNG has a volume of about 50% more per metric ton, further limiting the amount that can be carried into the air. While LNG has a higher BTU value per pound than kerosene (22,300 vs. 19,800 BTU), the weight and volume penalties more than offset the higher energy content.
Amazing. This explains why your first post was 'lol suxxxxxxxxxx' I guess? :lol: I'm not sure why you think I was asking you a question; I'm quite familiar with the properties of LNG, as much as you apparently believe I've never encountered the concept of compressed gas before.

I'm particularly fascinated by your apparent argument that since LNG is a less optimal fuel than aviation fuel, the whole experiment is worthless. I mean, investigating alternate fuels is such a waste of time these days...

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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Count Chocula » 2008-10-08 02:47am

Damn Stark, cut me some slack. It's like 2:30AM here! :)

Sorry if you found my reply pedantic, but I at no time said the LNG Blackjack was worthless. I'm a pilot, I like oddball shit that other people test! I'm still looking forward to a Diesel-cycle light plane engine.

As for the viability of the natural gas Tupelov, I'd rank it with this American jewel: Nuclear Peacemaker. The Jet-A Blackjack is more impressive, even though the Sovs tried an alternative fuel strategic bomber. Deployment would have been interesting; the Russians would have had to develop airborne LNG tankers. Ouch!

The Russians themselves never fitted it to a Blackjack; that speaks volumes about the practicality of the system (and the forecast availability of good old crude oil).
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-10-08 04:47am

Deployment would have been interesting; the Russians would have had to develop airborne LNG tankers. Ouch!
Actually, if you deployed such Blackjacks from the East, North and through Alaska and the pole, you could do it with a 6000-7000 km battle radius and no refuelling, plus the 3000+ range for the cruise missiles of the time (which later beefed up to 5000-6000 km)... or am I wrong?
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Count Chocula » 2008-10-08 08:27am

Assuming you could put enough LNG into tanks vs. a jet fuelled Blackjack.

The other way around that would be to use Cold War SAC practice, and figure that your strategic bombing missions would be one-way trips. :cry:
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Re: Tu-160 Goodness

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-10-10 01:50am

SAC didn’t normally plan missions with the assumption they’d be one way, its just that many bombers would have had to land in allied nations territory, like say Turkey, whose airfields would have all likely been destroyed by the time the bombers arrived. Any bombers which could actually reach a friendly base would be refueled and remained for a second wave of strikes. This was one of the reasons for placing lots and lots of nuclear bombs in NATO states. They weSAC didn’t plan missions with the assumption they’d be one way, its just that many bombers would have had to land in allied nations territory, like say Turkey, whose airfields would have all likely been destroyed by the time the bombers arrived. Any bombers which could actually reach a friendly base would be refueled and remained for a second wave of strikes. This was one of the reasons for placing lots and lots of nuclear bombs in NATO states. They weren’t all going to be tactical.

Of course, crew orders and training very much emphasized the need to hit the target at all costs, including aircraft and crew.
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