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Russia's strategic bomber Tu-160

Russia's Modernized Tu-160 Bomber: 'More Lethal Than Ever'

© AP Photo/ Misha Japaridze
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Providing strategic deterrence will be the main goal of the upgraded Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack supersonic strategic bomber, according to Dave Majumdar, the defense editor of The National Interest, a US political magazine.

The Tu-160M2, a modernized version of the Russian supersonic strategic bomber Tu-160, will continue to resolve tasks related to  strategic deterrence, Dave Majumdar, the defense editor of the US magazine The National Interest, said.

He briefly gave his thoughts on the matter in his article: "Blast from the Past: Soviet-Era Tu-160M2 Is More Lethal Than Ever."

Majumdar's remarks came after Viktor Bondarev, Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, said that "the upgrade of the Tu-160 bomber is being carried out in accordance with a presidential decree" and that "by 2019, this modernized aircraft will make its maiden flight."

Russian supersonic Tu-160 strategic bomber seen at an airfield near Kazan, about 700 kilometers (450 miles) east of Moscow. file photo
© AP Photo/
Russian supersonic Tu-160 strategic bomber seen at an airfield near Kazan, about 700 kilometers (450 miles) east of Moscow. file photo

In this vein, Majumdar quoted Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov as saying last year that "this will be essentially a new airplane, not a Tu-160 but a Tu-160M2."

As for the upgrades, the details have yet to be revealed. According to Majumdar, the Tupolev Design Bureau "made long-overdue adjustments to the airframe that were supposed to have been implemented during the Blackjack's original production run."

"However, those tweaks are likely to be fairly minor. The major upgrades are almost certainly going to be focused on the bomber’s avionics suite," he pointed out.

Mahumdar referred to the Russian Radio-Electronic Technologies Company (KRET), which is working out the new avionics suite for the Tu-160M2. In particular, he quoted KRET representatives as saying that "the new aircraft will be constructed using elements of integrated modular avionics (IMA)."

"In the project to modernize the Tu-160, KRET will be creating new on-board systems, controls, a gimbal-less inertial navigation system, electronic warfare complex, fuel use monitoring systems, as well as weapons control systems," the representatives said.

Majumdar, for his part, specifically drew attention to the fact that although "much of the aircraft will be new", the upgraded Tu-160 will continue to fulfill "its original nuclear deterrence mission."

"Unlike the stealthy Northrop Grumman B-2 or future B-21, the Russian bomber primarily relies on a combination of blistering speed and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles to deliver its doomsday payload," he said.

According to the Tupolev Design Bureau, the development of the Tu-160 started in the early 1970s, shortly before the US started to develop the B-2. The first prototype flew on December 18, 1981.

The first operational aircraft were delivered to the Soviet Air Force in April 1987. A total of 35 Tu-160s have been built since then.

Earlier this year, Russia announced its plans to restart production of the Blackjack at the Kazan Aircraft Production Association in 2023. Russia intends to produce over 50 new bombers.

Related:
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Sky Knights: Tu-160 Blackjacks Guard the Airspace of Russia's North
Tags:
avionics, upgrades, navigation, bomber, electronic warfare, nuclear deterrence, Tu-160, Tu-160M2, Russia
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  • cast235
    The new TU 160 should be faster. M2.8. Should have better engines that allow faster and more economical flights.
    It should carry hipersonic missiles. And when needed have bombs.
    When PAK TA, finally get out, a version should match the U.S big bombers. Carrying missiles and bombs. Including nuclear gravity bombs. No deals.
    No more denial of flight refueling on deals.Like Soviets did.

    It should have laser defenses 360 deg. all around. Including aa missiles in rear. Why not? Very compact ones? well..That will make it too heavy.. Maybe on wings. Or wherever.

    Russia needs a BIG bomber.. PAK TA would make a great choice. That could deliver BIG gravity bombs load. And missiles for defense and to destroy enemy radars , defenses from afar.
  • A = π r 2
    you can see why it's known as the white swan - almost too graceful to be a doomsday machine

    it's great the way the VVS have left the stars on the tails too, gives them a time-travelling aspect
  • backfromthegraav
    What a lovely SWAN !
  • backfromthegraavin reply toA = π r 2(Show commentHide comment)
    ultravi01et, It is only a Doomsday Machine because of AmeriCuns wanting Nuclear War with Russia ...
  • A = π r 2in reply tobackfromthegraav(Show commentHide comment)
    backfromthegraav, this is true
  • teddy jin reply tobackfromthegraav(Show commentHide comment)
    backfromthegraav,

    how true.
    the RUSSIANS are MASTERS at designing that TRULY

    the merging of FORM AND FUNCTION are shown.

    a plane - that has to fly FAR, VERY FAST, very high -- maneuver well - and YET carry heavy loads and is itself LARGE...

    THE FORM --

    but it reflects the FUNCTIONS...

    they create the way their arts are created...

    the ballet dancers are complete packages of POWER, ATHLETICISM, GRACE, versatility , endurance, precision and poetry...

    their musicians are the same way..their writers are the same way ..the great buildings and originality and richness of their homes and estates and farms etc...even those SOVIET ERA BUS stop we saw here in the galleries...

    just take a look again at the SUKHOIS especially the S-34 AND S-35\S. T-PAK

    just amazing.
  • backfromthegraavin reply toteddy j(Show commentHide comment)
    teddy j, Nice Text ... Great !
  • teddy jin reply tobackfromthegraav(Show commentHide comment)
    backfromthegraav, Thank you!
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