It was also announced that the Tu-160M will be getting the same onboard communications suite as Russia’s fifth-generation Su-57 air superiority fighter.

On January 12, from the aerodrome of the Kazan Aviation Enterprise, a modernized strategic bomber Tu-160M had its first flight. The flight lasted 30 minutes, at an altitude of 600 meters. According to Russia’s TASS news agency, the bomber has 80% of its equipment upgraded and modernized. The new Tupolev Tu-160M is reportedly designed to strike targets in remote areas with nuclear and conventional weapons. Reports claim the Tu-160M is the world’s heaviest supersonic military aircraft.

The aircraft retains the same appearance but is based on new technology using digital technology. Often compared to the US Air Force B-1 bomber, it is the largest and most complex modification of the TU-160. According to reports, the TU-160M was upgraded with the new NK-32-02 engines. The bomber also received an update to its systems including avionics, which were tested during the flight.

Tu-160M
Tu-160M

The Tu-160 is a multimode supersonic strategic missile-carrying bomber that features a variable-sweep wing design. Despite its age, Moscow announced its decision in 2015 to restart the production of the Tu-160 strategic bomber in its upgraded Tu-160M version at the Kazan Aircraft Enterprise.

The upgraded bomber featured advanced flight and navigation equipment, communications, a new radar and electronic countermeasures system. The Tu-160M is capable of carrying up to a dozen strategic cruise missiles on two multi-position rotating launchers inside the fuselage.

It was also announced that the Tu-160M will be getting the same onboard communications suite as Russia’s fifth-generation Su-57 air superiority fighter. In addition to being the largest and heaviest bomber ever built, the Tu-160 is also the fastest. While the B-1 Lancer, which is smaller, is more of a bomber in the classic sense, the Tu-160 was developed as a stand-off weapon platform where missiles are launched from the bomb bay. 

The Soviet-designed Tu-160 is notable in that it is the only bomber of the Cold War-era employed by the Soviet Air Force not to carry any defensive weapons. Speed has largely been its greatest defense, and it was capable of reaching Mach 2.05 or roughly 1,380 mph while flying at 40,000 feet. 

The new Kuznetsov NK-32-02 engines are also the largest and most powerful engines ever fitted on a combat aircraft and can produce some 55,000 pounds of thrust in afterburner. This could give the speedy bomber even more pep.

The unveiling of Russia’s new Tu-160M amid tensions with Ukraine on the border is raising fears of a potential conflict. However, Putin has rejected Western claims of an imminent Russian invasion asserting that Russian troops have the right to move around anywhere inside their own territory.

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