Russian Tu-160M strategic bomber made its First Flight


KAZAN, RUSSIA – The Russian Ministry of Defense has published a video of the first flight on February 2 of the Russian Tupolev Tu-160M Blackjack – an upgraded variant of the Tu-160 strategic bomber. The aircraft took off from the Kazan Aviation Plant and returned safely after a short and successful first flight, Pravda Report reports.

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Video: Pravda Report

Test flight

The aircraft took off from the Kazan Aviation Plant – 500 miles (800km) east of Moscow – and returned safely after a short flight. The pilots of the Tu-160M tested the upgraded systems and equipment of the aircraft during a flight that lasted for 34 minutes at an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 m).

Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack

The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack is a supersonic, swing-wing, heavy strategic bomber designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the Soviet Union in 1972 as a response to the heavy strategic bomber of the USAF – the Rockwell B-1 Lancer.

The Tu-160 is the largest and heaviest Mach 2+ supersonic military jet ever built, the fastest bomber now in use, and the largest and heaviest swing-wing aircraft ever.

The Tu-160 showcasing its swing-wing capability over the Murmansk Region in Russia. Photo: / Wikipedia Commons (CC)

The Tu-160 made its first flight on December 18, 1981 and entered service in 1987. The Russian Air Force has at least 16 of these aircraft in service. 

Tu-160M modernization program

The Tu-160 active fleet has been undergoing upgrades to electronics systems since the early 2000s.

The Tu-160M modernization programme has begun with the first updated aircraft delivered in December 2014.

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Tu-160M upgrade is rolled out in 2 phases:

With the first Tu-160M1 phase, the bomber will receive the new K-042K-1 navigation system and ABSU-200-1 autopilot.

Some previous systems will be removed, such as bomb sighting systems. This Tu-160M1-variant has been operational with the air force since late 2014.

The old Tu-160 cockpit (2010 photo) will be replaced by a digital glass cockpit . Photo: Alex Beltyukov / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL)

With the second Tu-160M2 phase the bomber will receive a digital ‘glass’ cockpit, a Novella NV1.70 radar, modern communications and anti-jamming equipment, upgraded NK-32 engines, and modern conventional and nuclear weapons.

A Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-160 flying over the Volga river, located next to the cities of Engels (left) and Privolzsky (right) in the Saratov Region. In far center, right behind the aircraft tail, is the Engels Air Base. Photo: Alex Beltyukov / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL)

The first upgraded Tu-160M bombers will be delivered to the Russian Air Force in 2021.


(Head image: Russian MoD)

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