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Second Russian upgraded Tu-160M strategic bomber undergoes ground testing


According to news published by the Russian press agency TASS on December 30, 2020, the second prototype of the upgraded Tu-160M strategic bomber is undergoing ground tests at the flight test center of the Gorbunov aircraft plant in Kazan.

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Second Russian upgraded Tu 160M strategic bomber undergoes ground testing 925 001 Russian upgraded Tu-160M strategic bomber. (Picture source TASS)


The Tu-160 (NATO reporting name: Blackjack) is a Russian-made multi-mission strategic bomber designed for operations ranging from subsonic speeds and low altitudes to speeds over Mach 1 at high altitudes.

The Tu-160 entered into service with the Russian Air Force in 1987. Currently, the Russian Air Force's Long Range Aviation branch has at least 16 aircraft in service. The aircraft has two internal bays that can carry different mission-specific armaments, including strategic cruise missiles, short-range guided missiles, nuclear and conventional bombs, and mines.

The Tu-160 active fleet has been undergoing upgrades to electronics systems since the early 2000s. The Tu-160M modernization program has begun with the first updated aircraft delivered in December 2014.

In December 2020, Russian aviation defense industry has announced that the production of of NK-32-02 engines for upgraded strategic Tu-160M bombers has begun. In November 2020, the aircraft with the new serial engines made the maiden flight at the airfield of Kazan Aircraft Plant, the Army Standard writes.

The new NK-32-02 retained the compact size of the predecessor, but decreased fuel consumption 10 percent. The range of Tu-160 increased over a thousand kilometers depending on the operational regime.

NK-32-02 has a new cooling system. Compressor and turbine blades are made of modern heat-resistant materials. The engine thrust is over 25 tons. It is to be used as the basis for the design of the power plant for Prospective Airborne Complex of Long-range Aviation (PAK DA).

On February 2, 2020 the first fundamentally upgraded Tupolev-160M Igor Sikorsky, converted from a standard Tupolev-160 version, performed its first flight. It was equipped with new flying and navigation equipment, onboard communication system and control system, radar and radio-electronic resistance complex.