The story of the AURI Tu-16 Bomber Plane, Penetrating the Heart of the Australian Continent Without Being Detected by Radar

JAKARTA, – Indonesia was once a country with the strongest armed forces in the southern hemisphere in the 1960s.

At that time, Indonesia’s military strength was taken into account because it had various main tools of the most recent weaponry system (alutsista) of its time.

One of the defense equipment that makes Indonesia feared by its enemies is ownership bomber aircraft Tupolev Tu-16.

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These bombers were operated by the Indonesian Air Force (MARRIAGE), now called the Indonesian Air Force, imported from the Soviet Union, now Russia.

Indonesia’s collection of bombers totals 24 units, 12 Tu-16 bomber versions (Badger A) and 12 Tu-16 KS-1 (Badger B).

In that era, Indonesia became one of the countries that had a fleet of bombers besides Russia, Britain and the United States.

China, which is currently one of the countries with the strongest military capabilities, even at that time did not have bombers, neither did Australia.


Quoted from Space Magazine entitled “Aircraft Combatants of the Indonesian Air Force”, the Tu-16 is capable of carrying 6 to 7 crew members.

The bomber is 34.80 meters long, 10.36 meters high, has an empty weight of 37,200 kilograms and a maximum takeoff weight of 79,000 kilograms.

The Tu-16 is equipped with 2 x Mikulin AM-3M-500 turbojet engines and 93.2 KN thrust each.

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Persenjataan Tu-16 குர்கு, 6-7 kanon 23 millimeter (mm) Nudelman-RikhterNR-23, Rudal 2X Raduga KS-1 Komet (AS-2 Kennel) anti-ship missile, 1X Raduga X K-10S (AS-Kipper) anti-ship missile semi-recessed di bomb bay, 2X Raduga KSR-5 (AS-Kingfisf) anti-ship missile, dan bom 9.000 kilogram.

(TNI AU via Original photo of a Tu-16 bomber at Iswahjudi air base

The KS-1 version of the Tu-16 is capable of carrying a pair of KS-1 surface anti-ship missiles (AS-1 Kennel). The Dutch, who at that time still occupied West Irian, were very afraid of this missile.

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This is because six KS-1 missiles released from the Tu-16 were enough to sink the proud mother ship, Karel Doorman.

Penetrating the Heart of the Australian Continent

Still from Space MagazineThe Tu-16 never demonstrated its capabilities in mid-1963 or during Operation Dwikora.

At that time, the Air Force deployed three Tu-16 bomber versions (Badger A) to distribute flyers in enemy areas.

The first two planes flew to Serawak, as well as Sandakan and Kinibalu which entered Malaysian territory.

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Meanwhile, one other plane was flown to Australia piloted by Air Commodore Suwondo. He flew carrying military equipment in the form of parachutes, communication devices, and canned food.

Suwondo and his mount prepared a scenario to unload goods in Alice Springs which is right in the middle of the Australian continent.

This scenario is to show that AURI is able to reach the heart of the Australian continent.

Towards the implementation of the mission, all the crew gathered at Wing 003, Iswahyudi Air Force Base, Madiun, at around 23.00 WIB, for a short briefing.

At 01.00 WIB, the bombers flew over Madiun towards Australia.

During the flight, the Tu-16 piloted by Suwondo flew low to avoid them over the horizon radar system. This radar is capable of monitoring the entire Asia-Pacific region.

The plane successfully penetrated Australia and landeddrop luggage. The scenario runs smoothly without any hiccups.

The F-86 Saber interceptor aircraft did not show any activity. Likewise, the dreaded Australian Bloodhound anti-aircraft missile is also fast asleep.

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The plane returned to Madiun at 08.00 WIB, the same day on the flight from Madiun to Australia.

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Meanwhile, for the mission in Sandakan, the Tu-16 departed from Iswahyudi Air Force Base at 00.00 WIB, one hour before the Tu-16’s departure for Australia.

This plane headed for Sandakan by soaring up to 11,000 meters and reached the mission area before the dawn call to prayer.

At that time, the lights of the local residents’ houses were still on. The plane continued to descend to a height of 400 meters.

Just above the target, bomb chamber or bomb bay opened to take down pamphlets. Pamphlets were scattered out, sucked in by the strong wind.

After one sortie, the plane turns around, and returns to its original location. Upon returning to the location, the lights of the residents’ houses which had previously been on were suddenly pitch black.

Apparently, the local population had been taught by the British to anticipate in the event of an air attack. The plane returned to base at 08.30 WIB.

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