Jun 4, 2015

Russia to complete Tu-160 upgrades ahead of time

Russia is to complete a major upgrade of its Tupolev Tu-160 'Blackjack' strategic bomber fleet a year earlier than previously announced, with the final aircraft now set to be delivered back to the air force in 2019.
The work, is geared at replacing all of the aircraft's Soviet-era equipment with modern systems.
The first phase, now completed, involved bolstering the aircraft's nuclear armament with the capacity to carry 12 conventionally armed Raduga NPO Kh-555 (AS-15 'Kent') long-range cruise missiles and laser-guided bombs. The first such upgraded aircraft was delivered back to the air force in April 2008.
The second phase is focused on replacing the radar, as well as the electronic navigation and communication systems. The first flight of a Tu-160 fitted with these new systems took place out of the Kazan Aircraft Plant (KAPO) east of Moscow in November 2014. The aircraft's engines are also to be upgraded under this effort at a later date.
The modernisation programme to the 16 bombers in the air force's inventory is now expected to be completed in 2019, rather than 2020 as previously stated.
Russia's new PAK-DA bomber is expected to make its maiden flight in 2019, before being inducted into service in the 2023-25 timeframe to replace the Tu-160, Tu-22M3, and Tu-95 platforms.

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