The Tupolev design bureau began work on the Tu-88 ("Aircraft N") prototypes in 1950. The Tu-88 first flew on 27 April 1952. After winning a competition against the Ilyushin Il-46, it was approved for production in December 1952. The first production bombers entered service with Frontal Aviation in 1954, receiving the service designation Tu-16. It received the NATO reporting nameBadger-A.
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 Navyaircraft carriers and other large surface ships. Subsequent Tu-16s were converted to carry later, more advanced missiles, while their designations changed several times.
A versatile design, the Tu-16 was built in numerous specialized variants for aerial reconnaissance, maritime surveillance, electronic intelligence gathering (ELINT), and electronic warfare (ECM). 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.
Among the main production variants of the Badger were the Tu-16 and Tu-16A bombers and Tu-16KS and Tu-16K-10 missile carriers, Tu-16SPS, "Elka", and Tu-16Ye ECM aircraft, Tu-16R reconnaissance aircraft, and Tu-16T torpedo bombers; others were produced from conversions. Individual aircraft could be modified several times, with designations changed, especially concerning missile-carrying aircraft.
"Aircraft 88" - Initial prototype.
"Aircraft 97" - Twin-engined long-range bomber development project of Tu-16 with two RD-5 engines.
"Aircraft 103" - Supersonic bomber development project of Tu-16 with four VD-7 AM-13 engines.
Badger A (Tu-16) – This is the basic configuration of the Tu-16 bomber deployed in 1954 to replace the Tu-4. Several modified models of this variant existed, all of which were known as Badger A in the West.
Tu-16A – Modified Tu-16s designed to carry nuclear bombs, one of main versions, with 453 built. Many of these were subsequently converted into other variants.
Tu-16Z – An early specialized version of the Tu-16 that served as airborne tankers (a refuelling method: wing-to-wing), though retaining their medium bomber role.
Tu-16G (Tu-104G) – Fast air mail model, Aeroflot aircrew training version.
Tu-16N – A dedicated tanker version for Tu-22/Tu-22M bombers, with probe and drogue system. Entered service in 1963. Similar aircraft Tu-16NN converted from Tu-16Z.
Badger B (Tu-16KS) – Variant designed as a launch platform for two AS-1 Kennel/KS-1 Komet missiles. 107 built in 1954–1958, served with the Soviet Naval Aviation, Egypt and Indonesia. Soviet ones later converted with newer missiles.
Badger C (Tu-16K-10) – Another Naval Aviation variant, units of this version carried a single AS-2 Kipper/K-10Santi-ship missile. 216 built in 1958–1963. It differed from other variants in having a radar in a nose. A further development, the Tu-16K-10-26, carried a single K-10S and two KSR-2 or KSR-5 AS-6 Kingfish missiles (K-26 missile complex). Some were later converted into ELINT platforms.
Badger D (Tu-16RM-1) – Maritime reconnaissance model with ELINT equipment; 23 converted from Tu-16K-10. It retained its radar in a nose and could guide K-10S missiles, fired from other planes, at targets.
Badger E (Tu-16R) – Reconnaissance version of the airframe, with ELINT equipment, first of all meant for maritime reconnaissance. It could guide KS missiles.
Tu-16RM-2 – modified Tu-16R, serving in the Naval Aviation. It could guide KSR-2 missiles.
Tu-16KRM – Launch platforms for target drones (a variant of Tu-16K-26).
Badger F (Tu-16RM-2) – Another reconnaissance version based on the −16R/RM but with the addition of external ELINT equipment.
Badger G (Tu-16K/Tu-16KSR) – Serving in the Naval Aviation, these were conversions from earlier models. These were designed to carry bombs in internal bays in addition to carrying air-to-surface missiles externally, such as the AS-5 Kelt and AS-6 Kingfish. There existed numerous variants, designated either from carried missile complex (K-11, K-16 and K-26) or from missiles of these complexes (KSR-11, KSR-2 and KSR-5). Following further modifications, they were also given suffixes. Main variants:
Tu-16KSR-2 – carrying the K-16 complex (two KSR-2 missiles). Used from 1962. Similar aircraft, converted from other variants, were designated Tu-16K-16.
Tu-16K-11-16 – carrying the K-16 complex (KSR-2 missiles) or the K-11 complex (two anti-radar KSR-11 missiles). Used from 1962. Similar aircraft were designated Tu-16KSR-2-11. Over 440 Tu-16 could carry the K-16 or K-11 complex.
Tu-16K-26 – carrying the K-26 complex (two KSR-5 missiles), retaining a capability of KSR-2 and 11 missiles. Used from 1969. Similar aircraft were designated Tu-16KSR-2-5-11 or Tu-16KSR-2-5 (no KSR-11 capability). Over 240 Tu-16 could carry the K-26 complex.
Tu-16K-26P – carrying the K-26P missiles (two anti-radar KSR-5P missiles, as well as KSR-5, 2 or 11).
On 25 May 1968 a Soviet Air Force Tu-16 Badger-F piloted by Colonel Andrey Pliyev buzzed the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Essex(CV-9) in the Norwegian Sea. The Tu-16 made four passes, and on the last a wing clipped the sea and it crashed with no survivors. Parts of three bodies were recovered by the US.
On 1 February 1971 a modified Tu-16 flying laboratory crashed during testing of a new jet engine, resulting in the death of the entire crew, including test pilot Amet-khan Sultan.
On 28 August 1978 an early model Tu-16 crashed on Hopen island in Svalbard, Norway. All seven crew were killed in the accident. It was discovered by a four-man Norwegian weather forecasting team. The Soviets refused to admit the loss of an aircraft until the bodies of the crew were given to them. Norway transcribed the contents of the flight recorder over the objections of the Soviet government.
^Simonov, Andrey; Bodrikhin, Nikolai (2017). Боевые лётчики — дважды и трижды Герои Советского Союза [Combat pilots - Twice and thrice Heroes of the Soviet Union]. Moscow: Russian Knights Foundation and Vadim Zadorozhny Museum of Technology. p. 46. ISBN9785990960510. OCLC1005741956.