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Russian Tu-160M strategic bomber conducts first flight with new NK-32-02 engines


According to information published by the Russian press agency TASS on November 6, 2020, an upgraded Russian Air Force Tu-160M strategic bomber with new NK-32-02 engines, made the first flight from the airfield of the Gorbunov KAZ plant, the UAC (United Aircraft Corporation) said.

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Russian Tu 160M strategic bomber conducts first flight with new NK 32 02 engines 925 001 Russian air force Tu-160M strategic bomber. (Picture source Wikimedia)


“The aircraft was piloted by the crew under the command of Anri Naskidyants. The flight took place at an altitude of 6000 meters and lasted 2 hours 20 minutes,” it said. The flight tested all upgraded systems and onboard equipment, as well as NK-32 engine of 02 series designed and produced by the United Engine Corporation. The crew said there were no remarks on the equipment.

The Tupolev Tu-160 NATO reporting name: Blackjack, is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The Tu-160 is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-32 afterburning turbofan engines, the most powerful ever fitted to a combat aircraft. Tu-160's internal fuel capacity of 130 tons gives the aircraft a roughly 15-hour flight endurance at a cruise speed of around 850 km/h (530 mph), Mach 0.77, at 9,100 m (30,000 ft). 

The Tu-160 can carry nuclear and conventional weapons including long-range nuclear missiles as the Kh-55MD cruise missile which has a maximum range of 3,000 km and is equipped with a 200 kt nuclear warhead.It has two weapons bays and up to 12 Kh-55MS missiles can be carried. The aircraft can be also armed with the Kh-15 ballistic missile and standard bombs.

Tu-160M was created in the framework of the large-scale program to upgrade available strategic and long-range bombers implemented by the Tupolev Company. The Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO reporting code: Blackjack) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in Russia. Although several civil and military transport aircraft are larger in overall dimensions, the Tu-160 is currently the world's largest combat aircraft, largest supersonic aircraft, and largest variable-sweep aircraft built.

In February 2020, the prototype of the upgraded strategic Tu-160M bomber made the first flight at the airfield of the Gorbunov KAZ plant  The flight took place at an altitude of 1500 meters and lasted 34 minutes. The flight tested the upgraded systems of the bomber. The pilot said the flight proceeded normally without any remarks to the equipment.

The Russian Air Force Tu-160M strategic bomber is an upgraded version of the Tu-160 Blackjack aircraft. The new version features new weaponry, improved electronics and avionics, which double its combat effectiveness. In early 2012 the Russian Air Force released plans for the fielding more than 10 Tu-160M upgraded aircraft by 2020.