Badger is the NATO reporting name for the Tu-16 medium jet bomber and its variant types. The Badgers are a remarkable demonstration of the USSR's aircraft development strategy throughout much of the Cold War, wherein a single aircraft design is modified and refined for as long as it can possibly be put to good use, and then some.

Originally built in the 1950s to carry gravity bombs, Tu-16s were built in large numbers and adapted to a wide variety of roles. Variants include tanker versions, both for refueling other Badgers and in support of the Tu-22 Blinder and Tu-22M Backfire, anti-shipping and anti-submarine versions (carrying missiles, depth charges, mines, or torpedos), maritime search and rescue (with a radio-controlled air-droppable lifeboat!), electronic warfare (radar jamming) and ELINT platforms, and cruise missile carriers.

About 1500 Badgers were built between 1953 and 1963, when series production stopped. Amazingly, the USSR, and post-collapse Russia, continued to use various models of the Tu-16 for another 30 years after the production lines shut down, retiring them in 1993, and Ukraine still flies them, as do a number of other countries.

Russian designation: Tu-16K-10-26 (ASM carrier version)
NATO designation: Badger-G mod 2
Design Bureau: OKB-156 Tupolev
Manufacturer: Plant nr. 22 Kazan, Plant Nr. 1 Kuinyshevs, Plant Nr. 64 Voronezh
Development began: 1950
First flight: 1953 (Badger-A)
Series production: 1953-1963 (All types)
Deployed: 1966-1993 (Badger-G)
Power Plant: 2 RD-3M series, thrust 9500kg each
Dimensions: 34.8m long by 10.36m high by 33.5m wingspan
Cruising speed: 900kph
Maximum speed: 1050kph
Flight ceiling: 12800m
Max takeoff weight: 79000kg
Maximum weapon load: 9000kg
Operational range: 4850km
Armament: 2 AS-6 (KSR-5) missile, guns?

Information obtained from the Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network ( As always, publically available information on military hardware tends to be fragmentary and inconsistent; please do not use this information to plan a war.

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