The video shows the maiden flight of Russia’s first new Tupolev Tu-160M ​​strategic bomber

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The video in this article features the maiden flight of Russia’s first Tupolev Tu-160M ​​strategic bomber rolling the newly reconstructed Blackjack production line.

Taken on January 12, 2022 at the Kazan Aviation Plant, the video in this article features the maiden flight of Russia’s first Tupolev Tu-160M ​​strategic bomber rolling the newly reconstructed Blackjack production line.

“The flight took place at an altitude of 600 meters [1,969 ft] and lasted about 30 minutes. Tupolev’s test pilot crew performed maneuvers to test the aircraft’s stability and controllability in the air,” Rostec said.

The Tupolev Tu-160 Beliy Lebed is a supersonic variable-wing strategic bomber. The Blackjack is the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft, the fastest bomber currently in use, and the largest and heaviest variable-wing aircraft ever flown.

The Tu-160 entered operational service in 1987, and as of 2016 the Russian Air and Space Force (RuASF) fielded 16 Tu-160s. The Blackjack fleet has been undergoing electronic systems upgrades since the early 2000s.

According to Janes, the restart of production of the upgraded Tu-160M ​​variant was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015 to boost the Air Force’s strategic bombing capabilities at a time of growing tension with the West and to compensate for delays in the future PAK-DA bomber program.

Russia plans not only to eventually purchase about 50 Tu-160M ​​bombers, but also to upgrade 16 existing airframes to standard. Serial production is to begin by 2023 at a production rate of at least three aircraft per year. This would fit with the order for 10 aircraft in the period 2023-2027.

The Tu-160M ​​upgrade is being rolled out in two phases, with the first phase of the Tu-160M1 including the new K-042K-1 navigation system and ABSU-200-1 autopilot, as well as the removal of some previous systems, such as bomb targeting systems. The first upgraded Tu-160M1 was delivered in December 2014.

The second phase of the Tu-160M2 includes the new Novella NV1.70 radar, a digital “glass” cockpit, modern communications and anti-jamming equipment, and modern conventional and nuclear weapons.

The new bomber will also be powered by upgraded versions of the existing Kuznetsov NK-32 afterburner turbojet. Upgraded engines are more fuel efficient and more reliable than stock engines.

Photo credit: United Aircraft Corporation

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is a writer specializing in aviation, defense and the military. He is the founder and editor of “The Aviation Geek Club”, one of the most widely read military aviation blogs in the world. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other media. He reported from Europe and flew Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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