The Russian strategic bomber Tu-160 has no serious design flaws except one revolving around the lack of stealth technologies, believes National Interest defence writer Caleb Larson.
In an article published on Friday, he at the same time touted the Tu-160 as “the biggest, fastest, and heaviest bomber ever to fly”.
“It is the only Soviet-designed bomber that does not carry any defensive weapons, although its prodigious 88,000 pounds of payload capacity can carry a dizzying array of conventional and/or nuclear weapons”, the author notes.
Touching upon the Tu-160’s “serious drawback”, Larson recalls that stealth technologies are “hard and expensive”, referring to Russia's only stealth warplane, the Su-57.
He called the Tu-160 “a legacy Soviet airframe that has of late gotten a new lease on life”, pointing to the fact that Russia is currently modernising its existing fleet of Tu-160 bombers with advanced avionics and engines.
“It may be some time before we see any new bombers flying around in Russia, stealthy or otherwise”, the expert concludes.
The Tu-160, which conducted its maiden flight in December 1981, is known in the military as the "White Swan" for the huge span of its white wings.
The bomber holds multiple world records, among others for being the largest military jet capable of reaching speeds in excess of Mach 2.
Mass production of the upgraded Tu-160M2 version is due to begin in the Russian city of Kazan in 2021. In early February, the Tu-160M2 successfully underwent a test flight that lasted for 34 minutes.