When the Soviet Union was on its last legs they had produced a Mach II heavy bomber known as the TU-160. The aircraft produced in 1987, died a  natural death as the Soviet Union collapsed. The successor state Russia, for some time, lay low, beset with economic problems as well as confusion about its role in world affairs. With the advent of Vladimir Putin, things changed. Putin an ex-KGB officer had dreams of restoring the old grandeur and military might of the Soviet Union and as a step in that direction took out the TU -160 out of mothballs and refurbished it as the TU-162. The aim of Putin was to try and restore military parity with the USA. The TU-160 was inducted into the Russian strategic fleet and put in an operational role. Putin even had a ride in the plane as a part of propaganda.

A most modern force multiplier.

The TU -160 is a versatile plane. It is the most advanced strategic bomber of the Russian Air Force. Original plans were to build 100 of these machines, but production was halted after 36 bombers had been built due to the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the USA. The plane has a crew of 4 and is considerably faster than the USAF B-1 as well as having a greater range. It is the world's largest combat aircraft and Putin is using it to good effect as an exponent of Russian military might. This plane which can touch speed in excess of Mach II is a force multiplier and has been used with telling effect against anti-Assad forces in Syria. The planes which take off from Russia use lethal air to surface missiles to target the opponents of Assad. The Russians under Putin have propped up the Assad regime as well as wreaked havoc on the ISIS and the Free Syrian army. The Russian operations , swift, and lethal are a lesson to the USA which for a long time was dithering under Obama.

Problems for Russia.

The Russian economy has, however, gone into a nose dive with the downward trend in the price of oil, which is the main Russian source of Income. Western economic sanctions are also having an effect. However, it would be wrong to think that these alone will curtail the global ambition of Putin and the Russians. In the meantime, the Tu-162 remains a potent sign of Russian military power and the western nations  have taken note of it. #Policy #war