The Tu-160M is equipped with the latest on-board defence system, a modern reliable communication system with enhanced noise immunity, and unique weapons that will significantly expand its combat capabilities when using conventional and nuclear weapons (Image courtesy: Tupolev)
Russia's largest and most powerful supersonic aircraft, the newly manufactured Tu-160M strategic missile carrier made its first flight on Wednesday from the airfield of the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant, the Tupolev branch of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
The plant manufactures the new generation strategic bomber Tu-160 and the Tu-214 specialised planes for the Russian Defence Ministry and also maintains the Long-Range Aviation fleet.
"The flight took place at an altitude of 600 metres and lasted about 30 minutes. The crew of test pilots of PJSC Tupolev performed manoeuvres to test the stability and controllability of the aircraft in the air," said Russian state-owned technology conglomerate Rostec.
Supplying two Tu-160M strategic missile carriers to the aviation strategic nuclear forces has been listed as one of the priority tasks for 2022 by the Russian Defence Ministry.
The entire modernization programme for the production of Tu-160 aircraft nicknamed 'White Swan', in the latest technology form of Tu-160M was launched by the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin who has taken special interest in the project, including personally witnessing the progress at the plant located in Tatarstan.
"It is necessary to continue the planned, balanced equipping of the troops with modern weapons and equipment, and pay special attention to the supply of high-precision systems, the latest reconnaissance, navigation, communications and control systems," Putin had said in his speech while laying down the "main tasks to focus on next year" during the annual defence ministry meeting, last month.
The design documentation for the Tu-160M aircraft was completely digitised in a short time as part of the implementation of the programme under the state contract between the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia and Tupolev, country's aerospace and defence company.
"The modernization of the Kazan Aviation Plant played a major role in restoring the production of unique aircraft: the equipment of the workshops, the flight test base were updated, and the world's largest installation for electron beam welding and vacuum annealing of titanium was put into operation," said Russia's Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.
The aircraft retains its earlier appearance, but is created on a completely new technological base using digital technologies, say the men involved in the project.
"The new machine is completely rebuilt, from scratch. In the new car, 80 percent of the systems and equipment have been updated and upgraded," stated Yury Slyusar, Director General of UAC.
The Tu-160M is equipped with the latest on-board defence system, a modern reliable communication system with enhanced noise immunity, and unique weapons that will significantly expand its combat capabilities when using conventional and nuclear weapons.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had said in 2019 that the NK-32 engines of the second series have been installed on the strategic bomber which significantly increase the range and duration of the flight.
The level of modernity in Russia's nuclear triad, Shoigu had said last month, has been brought to 89.1 percent - the highest level in the entire history of its existence.
In 2021, the aviation strategic nuclear forces of the country were replenished with four modernised Tu-95MS strategic missile carriers and several new missile systems put on combat duty.