During the Cold War between the USSR and the United States, both countries paid great attention not only to the development of various weapons, but also to the development of various machines that could perform rather narrow, special tasks that are not always directly related to the conduct of hostilities. One of these unique, but, alas, almost unknown machines today was the Tu-16S aircraft.
The Soviet heavy twin-engine Tu-16 aircraft was developed at OKB-156 in 1952. The car was produced for 10 years from 1953 to 1963, and was in operation right up to 1993. The car was produced and used in several versions and modifications. For example, there were Tu-16s equipped for electronic warfare. However, today we will talk about, perhaps, the most little-known modification today - Tu-16S.
The Tu-16S was developed by order of the USSR Navy in 1955. The Navy needed a heavy aircraft that could act as a rescue vehicle at sea. We worked on the project in the same Tupolev Design Bureau. They entrusted the difficult task to the designer I. F. I will not. According to the terms of reference, the 16th "Tupolev" was supposed to deliver the means of rescuing the ship's crew to the crash site. For this, a huge ark was fixed under the "belly" of the plane. Inside the plane, there was additional radar equipment to search for a ship in distress and to clarify its coordinates.
The boat, fixed under the Tu-16S fuselage, was also equipped with radar equipment and an automatic control system. On board the rescue vehicle there was a radio, a signal beacon, a supply of provisions, medicines, in general, everything that could be required for people who had just been rescued from the water. At the same time, the boat, using a radio signal, constantly "communicated" with the carrier aircraft, as a result of which the human operator on board the Tu-16 could not only track the location of the capsule on the water, but also remotely correct its course.
Several Tu-16S were in service with the Navy until the mid-1970s. During this time, the aircraft have gone through several upgrades. First of all, the rescue boats were constantly improved. It was assumed that, if necessary, the "Rescuers" could also be used to promptly retrieve the astronauts from the landing zone in the event that they fall into the ocean. However, after the appearance of a new rescue aircraft based on the Tu-142, all Tu-16S were converted into anti-submarine vehicles.
If you want to know even more interesting things, then you should read about 5 Soviet megaprojects, which could have become symbols of the Cold War, but were not implemented.