The brand new Tupolev Tu-160M ‘White Swan’ strategic missile-carrying bomber performed its debut flight.
“On January 12, the first newly-built Tu-160M strategic missile-carrying bomber performed its debut flight from the aerodrome of the Kazan Aviation Enterprise, a subsidiary of the Tupolev Company [part of the United Aircraft Corporation within Rostec], on January 12,” the press office said.
The maiden flight of the “White Swan” (as the Tu-160 is nicknamed by the Russian pilots) lasted about 30 minutes and saw the bomber fly at 600 and conduct maneuvers used to inspect the aircraft’s stable and controlled operations in the air.
Today, the first newly manufactured strategic missile carrier Tu-160M performed its maiden flight from the airfield of the Kazan Aviation Plant.
The flight took place at an altitude of 600 meters and lasted about 30 minutes. pic.twitter.com/9wziZVBDsL
— UAC Russia (@UAC_Russia_eng) January 12, 2022
The Tupolev Tu-160 is a supersonic strategic missile-carrier with a variable sweep wing. The decision to resume the production of the upgraded version of the Tu-160, the Tu-160M, was made in 2015.
As a consequence, two existing Tu-160s were upgraded to the Tu-160M standard under a contract with the Ministry of Defense. Overall, 15 airframes should be upgraded. The aircraft that first flew on Jan. 12, 2022 is the first newly build airframe under a contract with the Ministry of Industry and Trade out of ten advanced Tu-160M2 aircraft which will be produced for the Russian Aerospace Forces.
The new Tu-160M2 version, includes a glass cockpit, weapons upgrades, new engines and the removal of obsolete equipment no longer relevant to the Tu-160’s mission. According to the CEO of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Yury Slyusar, the new aircraft has 80% of its systems and equipment upgraded. The original Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack” first flew in 1981 and entered service in 1987.
The first flight of the first deeply modified Tu-160 (designated Tu-160M2), built from backlog airframe took place on Feb. 2, 2020 and lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes.
On Nov. 3, 2020, the first “fundamentally upgraded strategic bomber” flew from Kazan, Russia, powered by the new NK-32-02 engines . The United Aircraft Corporation said that during the flight the upgraded general systems and onboard radio-electronic equipment were tested and the performance of the new engine NK-32 of the 02 series assessed.
At the moment, we can’t but notice that the new Tu-160 is often referred to as Tu-160M and M2. If any, the difference between M and M2 variants is not clear.
A big Thank You to our friend Alex Snow for helping us with some details of this story!