Russian Strategic Bombers Seek Tire Armor to Foil Drone Attacks
Recent satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies, an American satellite company, have captured a peculiar sight at the Engels Air Base in Saratov, southern Russia—a fleet of Tu-95 bombers donning layers of car tires on their fuselage, creating an unconventional armor-like appearance. The Tu-95, notorious for its capability of carrying nuclear warheads, has resorted to this unusual defense mechanism to counter the threat of drone strikes originating from Ukrainian forces.
December witnessed the Engels Air Base facing drone attacks, resulting in the damage of two Tu-95 strategic bombers, compelling the authorities to relocate these vital assets to an alternative air base. The motive behind stacking car tires atop the aircraft was to avert future drone attacks, according to experts.
While some skeptics argue that covering the planes with tires does not render them undetectable during nighttime operations, the intention likely revolves around minimizing the heat signature emitted by the strategical bombers. The use of infrared cameras can still provide an observer with insights into their presence at airports. Additionally, this novel approach affords some level of protection to the aircraft, as the tire armor may shield the fighter from debris in case of an explosion mid-air.
It should be noted that there have recently been reports of Russian forces facing attacks from “paper drones” supplied by Ukraine through Australia. However, NATO military officials assert that they remain uncertain about the true extent of the Russian military’s actions and the effectiveness of such countermeasures.
A car tire is stacked on top of an airplane fuselage.
Unique appearance as if wearing tire armor.
This is a Russian plane taken by Maxar Technologies, an American satellite company.
According to CNN and others, two planes with tires were captured in the latest satellite image of Engels Air Base in Saratov, southern Russia.
The plane has been identified as the Tu-95, a Russian strategic bomber capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Why did the Russians put so many car tires on top of the plane?
Experts say the Russian military took this step to prevent drone strikes by Ukrainian forces.
Even this air base was attacked by drones at least twice in December last year, resulting in the damage of two Tu-95 strategic bombers, and eventually the bombers were moved to another air base.
Will there be any impact?
Experts are generally skeptical.
Just because you put tires on top of a plane doesn’t make it impossible to detect planes at night.
The idea is that you can reduce the heat signature of fighters located at airports, but still be able to observe them with infrared cameras.
However, some said the warhead could be used to protect the fighter from debris if it exploded in mid-air, which seems like a foolish attempt, but could have the effect of increasing the aircraft’s defences.
Although there have been recent reports that Russian forces have been hit by so-called “paper drones” received by Ukraine from Australia, NATO military officials said they do not know what Russian military actions will do in truth
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