The first modernised Tu-160M strategic bomber is to enter the Russian Armed Forces service in 2021.
The upgraded aircraft features new weaponry, improved electronics and upgraded avionics.
According to local media, this was announced by Defence Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu during his visit to the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant, a branch of the Tupolev PJSC.
“We are working on upgrading the Tu-160M and giving its a new outlook in accordance with the schedule. The first aircraft which will have no analogues in the world, will enter the troops in 2021”, the head of the defence department stated, as he opened a session focused on maintaining health of armaments, military and special hardware.
“The aircraft will be equipped with the latest on-board defence system, a modern reliable communications system with enhanced anti-jamming system, and unique weapons, which will significantly expand its combat capabilities when using standard and nuclear weapons. NK-32 engines of the second series are installed on the strategic bomber, which will significantly increase the flight range and duration.”
The bomber will carry the hypersonic Kh-90 (3M25 Meteorit-A) missile. The Russian Air Force will receive more than 10 modernised Tu-160M2s by 2020.
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.
The Tu-160 active fleet has been undergoing upgrades to electronics systems since the early 2000s.