Russia’s upgraded Tu-160M2 strategic bomber prototype first flight in Feb, 2018

Tupolev Tu-160M2 strategic bomber prototype will take to the skies for the first time from the airfield of the Kazan Aviation Enterprise in February 2018. Serial production of Tu-160M2 bombers should begin in 2023.

In 2015, Russia had made a decision to resume the production of Tu-160 bombers in their upgraded Tu-160M2 modification and delayed development of the new-generation bomber PAK DA stealth bomber. Russia plans at least 50 Tu-160M2 bombers. All the Tu-160 bombers operational in the Aerospace Force will be fully upgraded with new engines and electronics. the Tu-160ME is projected to have an estimated combat effectiveness two and a half times greater than the old Tu-160.

The Tu-160 is much larger and much faster than the B-1B–with a maximum takeoff weight of over 606,000lbs and top speed greater than Mach 2.05. By contrast, the B-1B weighs in at 477,000lbs.

The Tu-160s primary armament has always been long-range cruise missiles like the Kh-55MS–of which it can carry a dozen. In recent months however, the Russians have used the conventional version Kh-555 version of the cruise missile against targets in Syria alongside much more advanced and stealthy Kh-101 cruise missile. The aircraft also carries the nuclear-tipped Kh-102.

The TU-160M2 will have NK-32 series 2 engines. They will has improved performance, and its range of flight will be increased by at least 1,000 km, compared with existing engines. Current Tu-160s have about 10,000 kilometer range. The New Tu-160M3 will have about 12,000 kilometer range.

The Tu-160M2 is expected to be equipped with an active phased array antenna radar system. It will also get a new fire control system, increasing the efficiency of its Kh-101 and Kh-102 long-range missiles (which have a maximum range of 5,500 km – the longest in the world). The plane will also be fitted with a modern electronic warfare station, increasing survivability against would-be ground and air-based anti-aircraft missile threats.