The first of Russia’s new production Tupolev Tu-160M2 Blackjack supersonic strategic bomber for the Russian Aerospace Force was rolled out from the Kazan Aviation Enterprise production facility on 16 November.
The new bomber is essentially a prototype of a next-generation variant of the venerable Blackjack, the first generation of which was built during the 1980s in the last days of the Soviet Union.
The first flight of the updated Tu-160M2 Blackjack is scheduled for February 2018. The Russian Ministry of Defense plans to order at least 50 such aircraft.
Tu-160M2 represents a radical modernization of the basic design of the supersonic strategic bomber Tu-160. The main difference is in the complex of on-board radio electronic equipment (including the new EW system). The share of new components reaches 60 percent.
The Tu-160 has performed well during Russia’s Syria campaign acting as launch platforms for the stealthy MKB Raduga H-101 cruise missile, which is thought to have a range between 4,500MKm and 5,500Km.
The upgrade of its strategic bomber force, including the Tu-160M2, remains a top priority for the Russian government. “We’ll continue discussing today how tasks are being solved to develop the fleet of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers. These planes are an important component of the country’s nuclear potential,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in August.