The Russian military will commence ground tests of its upgraded Tupolev Tu-160 bomber in December, TASS revealed, citing sources.
The ground tests will begin with a maiden trial run on the Kazan Aviation Enterprise runway, the outlet added.
The United Aircraft Corporation handed over the upgraded strategic missile-carrying bomber — nicknamed the ‘White Swan’ by the Russians and the ‘Blackjack’ by NATO — to the Russian Air Force for preliminary trials in March. The 160M is equipped with four new NK-32 series 2 engines and upgraded onboard equipment.
Upgraded Fleet by 2030
Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov revealed three years ago that the country will upgrade its entire fleet of Tu-160s by 2030.
“We are going to purchase the entire fleet of our strategic Tu-160 bombers in their new version and carry out heavy upgrade of operational aircraft where only the fuselage will remain while all the onboard radio-electronic equipment and engines will be replaced,” TASS reported Borisov as saying at the time.
The minister added that the upgraded aircraft would be “less visible than its predecessor due to special coatings” and carry a host of better weapons with more extended range.
“We are developing new airborne weapons, and you can’t compare the Tu-160 plane with the Kh-55, Kh-550 and even Kh-101 missiles and the plane, which we hope to get serial-produced by the 2030s.”
Borisov also revealed that the upgraded aircraft’s engine would be 10 percent more efficient, allowing the bomber to fly a thousand kilometers further.
The supersonic strategic missile bomber, which first flew in 1981 and entered service six years later, can fly at Mach 2 for 7,300 km (4,536 miles).
The world’s largest and heaviest combat aircraft, designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau, carries up to 40,000 kg (88,000 lb) of weapons or rotary launchers for nuclear missiles.