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.

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HF
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HF

Have the Russians ever built a true intercontinental bomber ? I thought they never had an engine efficient enough.

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

Oh, yes. “multiple Bear bombers flew into U.S. air defense identification zones off California and Alaska. In fact, some of the Bears flew within 40 miles off the California coastline.” That is from: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/tu-95-bear-meet-old-russian-bomber-us-f-22s-just-intercepted-near-alaska-58887 That article is a re-post so the dates go back to the earlier part of the decade I would say. The Tu-95 Bear is listed on Wikipedia as having a range of 15,000km so yup they have intercontinental range. You are right to say that their [jet] engines are not that efficient, hence the Bear has turboprops which are pretty efficient but it is also huge… Read more »

Simon Trammer
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Simon Trammer

The largest supersonic aircraft ever built was the BAE Concorde.

If you exclude non-military aircraft then yes, you are correct – although it’s notable that the Vulcan had a greater wing area (because of it’s delta shape as opposed to the Tu-160’s variable wing)

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

Hi Simon,

Actual the Concorde was smaller in weight terms being 78,800 kg empty and 111,130 loaded whilst the Tu-160 is 110,000 kg empty and 267,600 kg loaded. These figures are from the specs given on the respective Wikipedia pages.

Simon Trammer
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Simon Trammer

Chariot rider.

I’ll give.you that….the Concorde is lighter…..but I guess now we’re talking semantics, since both planes can claim to be “larger” dependant on how you quantify it. Both in terms of wing area and length- the Concorde is/was “bigger”.

Frosty
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Frosty

The Vulcan wasn’t supersonic though? According to its Wikipedia page no variant could reach supersonic speeds.

Simon Trammer
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Simon Trammer

Good point.

Dowmont
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Dowmont

Gosh, you’re absolutely right! Russians live in Siberia on Christmas trees, drink vodka so as not to freeze and scratch their furry eggs, out of boredom. Lol!

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

No longer White? Beautiful aircraft regardless.

geoff
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geoff

Hi Daniele-more than a passing resemblance to the B1.
B1ski?

David Barry
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David Barry

Soviet 160s are decades older than B1s…

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

B1s? You mean B2s I think David?

The BlackJack programme was initiated in response to the American B1, though I believe some of its design predated it according to some articles on Tupolev thinking.

The bombers that predate the B1 are the Backfires, Bisons, and Bears.

David Barry
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David Barry

That’s me on the naughty step, you’re right Danielle.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Morning Geoff. For sure. No coincidence.

David Barry
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David Barry

With regard the comment to the 160s looking like a B2, is it me, or did the septics get some inspiration for their ‘Bones’ from the 160?

Ideas?

G Hanson
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G Hanson

That thing will probably appear on continental US radars whilst it is taxing out for take off at Engels

Helions
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Helions

I believe the program encompasses about 20 – 24? aircraft. The Russians have been rebuilding derelict airframes if I recall. Their continuing problem as with many of these “new” programs is simply the numbers count. They can’t afford but a few – not enough to shift any balance of power their way. I think much of it is due to the ongoing U.S. arms buildup with an eye on China. Perhaps there’s a little bit of hurt pride on not being the number one enemy anymore. More realistically they may be also sending a message to China as well. “We’re… Read more »

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

Hi Helions, So the Iranians have responded, any word on casualties? Haven’t found any more information as yet. The hour of the attack suggests that these attacks at least were not aimed at escalation, of course there is always the possibility for more covert retaliation later… As for the Russian buildup being aimed at the Chinese, yes it would make sense. Rebuild a minimum capability so around which you can regenerate large forces if needed and then demonstrate their capailities against NATO – who are well practiced and more importantly well disciplined, so a much lower risk of a ‘mishap’… Read more »

Helions
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Helions

Hi C.R. Still too early to assess what the response from the U.S. is going to be. There don’t seem to be any American casualties but unfortunately there are Iraqi – Which ought to infuriate the Iraqi government. It was obviously a “sound and Fury” revenge attack not meant to cause heavy casualties which would ensure an overwhelming U.S. response which is the last thing the Iranians want right now. Their economy is in serious trouble and any U.S. attacks which shuts down their oil infrastructure would do a great deal of damage that they would have to absorb and… Read more »

Joe16
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Joe16

My only reservation with your comments are Trump’s tweets about targeting Iranian cultural sites, but I am confident that the professionalism and high moral standards of the US military would preclude any of those targets from actually being hit. I’ve met many and they’re a great bunch!

Helions
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Helions

Not going to happen. Much has been made of that comment. There is a great deal of difference between attacking – say… Isfahan or the IRGC Staff College – which IS a cultural site given the role they play in propping up the mullahs much as the SS did with Hitler. The military leadership will resist any targeting that is not in line with the accepted rules of warfare. Unlike the Iranians by the way. It’s starting to look as though there is the possibility that Ukrainian jetliner that crashed in Tehran may have been shot down by a trigger… Read more »

Helions
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Helions
Joe16
Guest
Joe16

Sorry, if I was implying I thought that the US military would actually target true cultural sites then I apologise- I have no doubt that they would refuse such an order. I genuinely do hold the US military in high regard. My reservation was that Trump would think it was an OK thing to say in the first place. Yes, I’ve seen some of the reporting, it is certainly suspicious. I do struggle to see how it could have happened though, despite some similarities to the Crimea mess, there are also some quite significant differences. The forces in control of… Read more »

Helions
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Helions

Hardly any need to apologize Joe! Just back and forth discussion. It sometimes seems some posters forget that this is a forum for civil discussion and debate on military matters- not for Ad Hominem attacks due to opinion differences…

Cheers!

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

Hi Helions, Looks like the heat is coming out of the situation at the moment – although the situation with the Ukrainian airliner is looking increasingly iffy. I have seen reports that US officials are saying it was not a missile – possibly because the US would have been watching Iran very closely for missile launches. One thing that occured to me was that the aircraft was just out of maintenance, so could have been something related to that, mistakes happen. There were also two people who reportedly did NOT get on the plane – always a cause for concern.… Read more »

ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

Correction…

Just been reported (via the BBC) in US press that the US DID see SAM’s being launched at the airliner, so yes someone got trigger happy…

That airliner should never have taken off given missiles were flying around the place. They should have delayed…

Helions
Guest
Helions

It’s just a tragic situation all around…

Looks as if that’s exactly what happened to 176 innocent people during a “revenge” strike that was not even intended to do harm to the “enemy”…

https://www.foxnews.com/world/ukrainian-airplane-shot-down-by-mistake-by-iranian-anti-aircraft-missile-pentagon-officials-believe

Cheers…

Helions
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Helions
ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

Hi Helions,

Yeh, seems like a total tragedy but as I have said above civil airliners should be grounded the moment missiles start flying around.

I doubt very much that the Irans have a modern integrated air defence command and control network so they have pretty capable SAM’s effectively under local control. Just like in the case of 176. The Iranians should have ground all civil flights and the international aviation authorities need to play a role as well to stop over flights when tensions are high and to h**l with the cost of fuel…

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Correction I was referring to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

Also, I saw that video on the BBC 10 o’clock news last night. Chilling.

A missile strike certainly explains the lack of a Mayday call.

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

Thanks, do you happen to have any information on what the actual upgrades are..? I’d agree, that Russia is trying to maintain its position as someone to take note of. I hadn’t really thought of the China angle, but was certainly thinking of the Baltics, Eastern Europe and Black Sea (including Turkey). I guess central Asia was also historically an area of influence where they’d now also be butting up against Chinese expansion, although it’s not much talked about anywhere, so I don’t really know whether that’s an issue or not. Having upgraded Blackjacks that are able to undertake maritime… Read more »

Helions
Guest
Helions

Hi Joe, IMO as with much of Russia’s “new” (often utilizing the bones of ex Soviet programs) weapons modernization programs, I guess the term “I’ll believe it when I see it” applies. I have no doubt a small number of Blackjacks will be modernized and upgraded but – as noted in this article – looking at the struggles of the U.S. military to maintain Cold War era weapons systems and obtain spares from a much shrunken industrial base – I’m going to remain skeptical about these claims. Remember the firm declaration they were going to build the world’s largest nuclear… Read more »

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

Thanks for the link. I guess the UK experience (on a smaller scale) with Tornado could also be analogous; a cold war beast that was becoming too expensive to keep up to date and competitive…!

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

The issue with Tornado was that we had exceeded the planned life of the airframe. The life of the airframe was planned for the cold war and was supposed to be replaced by the future offensive air system by 2010. After the cold war the actual use of the aircraft went up. Operations over former Yugoslavia, the Gulf wars, patrolling the no fly zone post Gulf war and Afghan. These deployments ate up a lot of the airframes life. When the aircraft went through the upgrade program to GR4, a lot of the wing box sections were found to be… Read more »

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