Bomb release occurred with the nose just beyond the vertical, at a 106° pitch angle and an altitude of about 3,000m, giving an impact point directly below the release point. In both cases, after release the pilot immediately levelled the aircraft and engaged full power and afterburner, giving between one and two minutes to escape to a safe distance before detonation.
The toss-bombing method lacked precision; but to achieve a best-rated drop according to the evaluation system used in training exercises, pilots were required to deliver the bomb within a circle with a radius of 500m (1,640ft) from the target’s centre. Such a miss distance was considered more than adequate for the powerful nuclear blast to effectively destroy the majority of battlefield targets.
In the 1960s, the Balkan theatre of operations (the so-called Balkan fronts) was battle-planned for 30 nuclear munitions. During the mid-1970s, when Lt Gen (Ret) Popov attended the Soviet Union’s Gagarin Air Force Academy, Warsaw Pact plans called for the delivery of up to 600 individual tactical nuclear strikes in at least two waves. On Bulgarian territory, two separate fronts were to be established in the case of a strategic offensive against NATO forces deployed to the south in the Balkans, Turkey and Greece. Targets would have included any NATO platforms fitted with nuclear weapons, command and control centers, airfields, ports and ground forces.