Russia’s Defense Ministry has received another Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack” strategic bomber after its repair and upgrade, TASS news agency reported citing the press office of the Tupolev Aircraft Company, part of the United Aircraft Corporation.
“The Tupolev Company transferred a Tu-160 plane to the Defense Ministry of Russia on August 28. The strategic missile carrier underwent major overhaul with the first-stage upgrade,” the company said.
The Tupolev Aircraft Company also transferred two more modernized Tu-95MS (Bear) strategic bombers to the Defense Ministry.
“First-stage modernization work was carried out on the turboprop strategic missile carriers. In early July, a Tu-22M3 was transferred for operation after its repairs and upgrade at the enterprise. The modernized Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 aircraft have undergone the required ground-based and flight tests in full,” the Tupolev press office said.
All the required work has been conducted on the aircraft transferred to the Tupolev Company for modernization and all operational acceptance flights have been performed and the aircraft have been delivered to their aerodromes, the press office reported.
The Tu-160 active fleet has been undergoing upgrades to electronics systems since the early 2000s. The Tu-160M modernisation programme has begun with the first updated aircraft delivered in December 2014. About half of these bombers have already undergone repairs and modernization.
The United Aircraft Corporation reported earlier that the Russian industry would modernize over ten Tu-95MS strategic bombers in 2015-2016. Russia’s Aerospace Force currently operates several dozen Tu-95MS bombers armed with Kh-55 strategic cruise missiles.
About Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack”:
Tupolev Tu-160 Beliy Lebed (or White Swan, Russian: Туполев Ту-160 Белый лебедь, NATO reporting name: Blackjack) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the Soviet Union.
It is the largest and heaviest Mach 2+ supersonic aircraft ever built and second only to the comparable XB-70 Valkyrie in overall length. It is the largest and heaviest combat aircraft, the fastest bomber currently in use, and is the largest and heaviest variable-sweep wing aircraft ever flown.
The Tu-160 can be armed with cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. Along with the Tu-95MS missile carrier, the Tu-160 makes part of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces along with the ground-based missile systems and submarines.
Entering service in 1987, the Tu-160 was the last strategic bomber designed for the Soviet Union. As of 2016, the Russian Air Force, Long Range Aviation branch has 16 aircraft remaining, with fewer being airworthy and in service.
It was reported in 2015 that Russia had made a decision to resume the production of Tu-160 bombers in their upgraded Tu-160M2 modification and reschedule the development of the new-generation bomber PAK DA (Perspective Airborne Complex of Long-Range Aviation) to a later term.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the serial production of Tu-160M2 bombers should begin in 2023. The Russian Aerospace Force intends to purchase no less than 50 such aircraft. The Aerospace Force commander-in-chief said earlier that the Tu-160M2 might take to the skies for the first time already in late 2018.