Tupolev Tu-16 Badger

The Tupolev Tu-16 (Russian: Туполев Ту-16, NATO codename: “Badger“) was one of the first operational jet engine bombers. Because of its performance, it is still in service, about 60 years later, by Russia and China.

Although the Tu-16 began as a high-altitude, free-fall bomber, in the mid-1950s, it was equipped to carry early Soviet cruise missiles. The Tu-16KS-1 (Badger-B) version could carry AS-1 missiles over a combat radius of 1,800 km (1,100 mi). These very large weapons were aerodynamically similar to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighter, fitted with either a nuclear or conventional warhead, having a range of about 140 km (85 mi). They were intended for use primarily against US Navy aircraft carriers and other large surface ships. Subsequent Tu-16s were converted to carry later, more advanced missiles, while their designations changed several times.

In total, 1,507 aircraft were constructed in three plants in the Soviet Union, in 1954–1962. A civilian adaptation, the Tupolev Tu-104, saw passenger service with Aeroflot. The Tu-16 was also exported to Indonesia, Egypt, and Iraq. It continued to be used by the Air Forces and naval aviation of the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia, until 1993.

Delivery of the Tu-16 to China began in 1958, and the Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation license-produced the aircraft under the Chinese designation Xian H-6. At least 120 of these aircraft remain in service. On 14 May 1965, one of the PLAAF Tu-16 bombers carried out the first airborne nuclear weapon test inside China.