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​One Third of russia's Combat-Ready Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 Bombers Gathered at Olenya Air Base (Satellite Imagery)

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Illustrative photo: Mid-air refueling of a russian Tu-95MS provided by an Il-78 tanker / Archive photo
Illustrative photo: Mid-air refueling of a russian Tu-95MS provided by an Il-78 tanker / Archive photo

Cautious of attacks on strategic aircraft, russia collects it farther than Ukrainian drones can reach. For now.

Recent satellite images published by OSINT researcher MT_Anderson reveal a concentration of russian strategic aircraft at Olenya airfield in the Murmansk region, russia. Specifically, the presence of 12 Tu-95MS, 13 Tu-22M3, and one Tu-160 strategic bomber, as well as two An-12 military transport aircraft was recorded on May 15, 2024.

Olenya air base takes one of the central roles in russian systematic barrage of long-range missiles on Ukraine, by hosting airborne missile carriers 1,800 km north of the Ukrainian border.

Read more: ​Satellite Shows Two russian Submarines Semi-Submerged at Novorossiysk Base
russian strategic aircraft at Olenya base / Defense Express / One Third of russia's Combat-Ready Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 Bombers Gathered at Olenya Air Base (Satellite Imagery)
russian strategic aircraft at Olenya base / Satellite imagery credit: MT_Anderson

Earlier intelligence services of British and Ukrainian defense ministries estimated at different times that approximately 40 bombers of the Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 types in total remain in combat-capable condition in the strategic aviation fleet of the russian Aerospace Forces.

The others, Defense Express reminds, are not in shape due to Ukrainian drone strikes, sabotage operations, or factors unrelated to combat.

Therefore, it means russia currently has one-third of the total of combat-ready strategic bombers of the mentioned types gathered at the Olenya airfield.

russian strategic aircraft at Olenya base / Defense Express / One Third of russia's Combat-Ready Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 Bombers Gathered at Olenya Air Base (Satellite Imagery)
russian strategic aircraft at Olenya base / Satellite imagery credit: MT_Anderson

For comparison, in late April 2024, there were only six Tu-22M3s at the Mozdok airfield, which is also suitable for the deployment of strategic bombers. At the same time, this emphasizes how important Olenya is now as a base for russian long-range aviation.

The decision to place a third of available Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 fleet at such a remote airfield not only means that the russians are preparing for new strikes on Ukrainian critical infrastructure but also how wary they are of the possibility of Ukraine's explosive drones reaching their most valuable aircraft.

Besides, the An-12 transport aircraft spotted at the same location could quite possibly have been used for flights necessary to accumulate cruise missiles at the Olenya airfield for further strikes.

Tu-160 bombers at the Olenya air base, russia, October 2022 / Defense Express / One Third of russia's Combat-Ready Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 Bombers Gathered at Olenya Air Base (Satellite Imagery)
Tu-160 bombers at the Olenya air base, russia, October 2022 / Open-source archive photo
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