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    A Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber

    Russian Tu-160M2 Bomber May Make First Flight by End of 2018

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    Russia's upgraded Tu-160M2 supersonic bomber is expected to take off by the end of 2018, followed by full-scale production in 2021, according to the Russian Aerospace Forces commander.

    DUBROVICHI (Ryazan Region) (Sputnik) — Russia's upgraded Tu-160M2 supersonic bomber may make its maiden flight as early as in late 2018, the nation’s Aerospace Forces commander said Thursday.

    Last year, Russia announced the comeback of the Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO reporting name Blackjack) in its upgraded Tu-160M2 variant, pushing back the final phase of developing the next-generation PAK-DA bomber until later.

    "The first Tu-160M2 is expected to take off by the end of 2018, followed by full-scale production in 2021," Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev told journalists.

    The Russian Defense Ministry estimates that serial production of the upgraded strategic supersonic bomber will begin in 2023. It plans to buy at least 50 aircraft.

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    Tu-160M2, Russian Aerospace Forces, Viktor Bondarev, Russia
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