All Tu-95 bombers grounded after second serious fire in two years

The old Russian bombers are frequently flying outside Norwegian airspace.

A Tu-95 bomber overran the run-way during take off from the Ukrainka military airfield in Russia’s eastern Amur region Monday evening, Interfax reports.

“The Tu-95 ran over the runway during acceleration. There was no ammunition onboard. According to preliminary information, engine fire was the cause behind the accident,” Russia’s Ministry of Defense says to the news agency.

Five of the crew members were injured, reports. 

The Defense ministry has suspended all flights of Tu-95 for a period of investigation.

This is the second time in two years that one of the old Russian strategic bombers are damaged during take off due to a fire.

In February 2013, the crew onboard the bomber “Samara” had to evacuate after a fire started behind the cockpit while taxing down the runway preparing for take off. As BarentsObserver reported, that particular aircraft had been identified outside northern Norway several times before.

That bomber was so heavily damaged that there was no sense to repair it.

What would have happened if a Tu-95 catches fire while flying outside Norwegian air space?

The Tu-95 strategic bombers are very old aircrafts; the first of the type entered service in 1956.

In 2013, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC), Northern Norway, located in Bodø told BarentsObserver they don’t have any special procedure to handle an accident with a Russian bomber.

“In principle we have no special procedures for such a special situation,” said Tore Wangsfjord. He was Operative Rescue Commissioner at JRCC. 

“However, we have procedures for incidents where military aircrafts or vessels are involved with respect to dangerous cargo, weapons etc. This is primarily to protect the rescue crew’s safety. We do also have a good cooperation with the (military) Joint Headquarters that in such situation would be a natural partner and advisor,” Tore Wangsfjord told BarentsObserver.

Tu-95 aircrafts are designed to carry nuclear tipped cruise missiles. No information is available whether or not the bombers flying along Norway’s coast are actually carrying nuclear warheads.

In January this year, the British newspaper Sunday Express reported that one Tu-95 bomber flying outside Norway actually carried a nuclear warhead. The suggestion was later on denied by Russia’s Ministry of Defense.