Russia must start development of a long-range bomber aircraft, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday at a meeting on defense orders.
"We have to develop work on the new PAK-DA long-range bomber aircraft for Long-Range Aviation. I know how expensive and complex this is. We have talked about this many times with ministers, and with the head of the General Staff. The task is not easy from a scientific-technical standpoint, but we need to start work," Putin said.
If bomber development work is not started soon, Russia might miss the boat, Putin said.
A new long-range cruise missile has already been adopted for these aircraft, he said, adding that the “tactical level” is in need of deep modernization.
The president also said the A-100 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) project should be implemented within the next five years.
The new AWACS plane will have the capability to detect and track long-range airborne and ground-based targets.
Russia operates a mixed fleet of 63 aging Tu-95MS turboprop missile carriers, and just 13 Tu-160 bombers.
Russia must also develop a range of military unmanned air vehicles (UAV) including strike and reconnaissance types, Putin said.
"We need a program for unmanned aircraft. Experts say this is a most important area of development in aviation," he said. "We need a range of all types, including automated strike aircraft, reconnaissance and other types," Putin added.
Russia plans to spend around 400 billion rubles ($13 billion) on UAV development in the next eight years.
Putin’s call for a new bomber comes just a week after Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has responsibility for the military-industrial complex, appeared to pour cold water on the need for a new bomber, in remarks carried in Izvestia newspaper.