The Russian military will begin receiving upgraded Tu-160M bombers in the coming years, reports local media.
In an interview, Deputy Defence Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said that the Tu-160M, an upgraded strategic bomber, should be ready to enter service in 2021.
In November of last year, a prototype Tu-160M was transferred for factory testing, which put the aircraft through ground and flight trials. Thereafter, the aircraft is planned head to state testing before being declared ready for service.
“The Tu-160M is an upgrade program for the Air Force’s existing Tu-160s. Concurrently, Russia is also looking to restart production lines for the bombers, which will be classified as the Tu-160M2.”
Krivoruchko also stated that a preliminary design of the PAK-DA — a next generation bomber — has been approved by the Russian Defence Ministry. Development of the PAK-DA was delayed given the high cost of the programme, with the military instead ordering upgrades for its existing bombers, such as the Tu-160s, and restarting production lines of the older aircraft.
However, Russian officials have continued to state that the PAK-DA program has not been discontinued.