Upgraded Russian Tu-160M supersonic bomber delivered for test program

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The latest upgraded version of the Russian supersonic strategic bomber the ‘Blackjack’ TU-160, which has new engines to extend its performance and range, has been delivered ahead of its entry into service later this year.

The aircraft was handed over to the Russian Air Force (VKS) at the Tupolev flight test and development base in Zhukovsky near Moscow, where it will continue its flight testing program this year said Russian state-owned defence conglomerate Rostec.

The variable-swept wing missile-carrying bomber, which is the largest , heaviest and fastest in the world is being upgraded as part of an upgrade program of Russia’s strategic and long-range combat aircraft first announced in 2015. The project is being carried out by United Aircraft Corporation company’s Tupolev Design Bureau.

The TU-160, which is capable of traveling at speeds in excess of Mach2 while weighing in at 275,000kg (606,271 lbs) was originally designed in the 1970s and has been upgraded several times over the decades.

Rostec said, “The new Tu-160M ​​missile carrier is equipped with new NK-32 Series 2 engines and upgraded onboard equipment, which has improved the characteristics of the base vehicle. The aircraft has successfully passed factory tests.

“The new missile carrier has been transferred to the Tupolev flight test base for preparation for the next stage of flights – preliminary tests.”

According to the Tupolev Design Bureau, which is also involved in the upgrade program, the TU-160M made its first flight with its four new  engines last November.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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