The first full-size model of Russia’s future long-range bomber PAK DA, being developed for the Aerospace Force, has been created by the Tupolev company, a source in Russia’s defense-industrial complex told TASS.
“Several scale mock-ups of the PAK DA bomber have been made of composite materials. Also, there is a full-size mock-up made of wood. All models are based on the flying wing concept,” the source said.
The airframe will be made of radar-absorbent material. All weapons will be placed inside the fuselage.
“Also, PAK DA is to be equipped with the latest radioelectronic warfare equipment of domestic manufacture, unparalleled in terms of effectiveness,” the source said.
Another source in the Russian defense industry said the first test sample of a future bomber will perform its first flight by 2025. The plane will have a subsonic speed.
The new fifth generation PAK DA bomber will be able to carry a 30-ton weapons payload including different variants of air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles as well as conventional and smart-guided bombs. Among other things, it will be capable of carrying the KH-32 cruise missile, Russia’s latest anti-ship missile currently under development and specifically designed to attack U.S. carrier strike groups.
Russia is also making about fifty of an updated Tu-160 bomber, the Tu-160M2 long-range supersonic strategic bomber.
The first prototype of the Tu-160M2 bomber might already be unveiled as early as 2018. Test flights are slated to be carried out in 2019 or 2020 with the first bombers to be handed over to the Russian Air Force by 2023-2025. Once operational, the new fifth generation aircraft will replace more obsolete Russian bomber models including the Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22M3. Projected per unit costs are reportedly around $160 million.
The Tu-160M2will have limited stealth. It will presumably be armed with long-range standoff cruise missiles such as the Kh-101/Kh-102 (nuclear variant) air-launched cruise missile with an estimated range of 2,700 to 5,000 kilometers. The Tu-160M2 will likely carry the missiles internally on a rotary launcher.