The Russian PAK DA strategic stealth bomber is expected to officially launch in 2021.
In recent days, Russia’s PAK DA strategic stealth bomber has been the focus of world media. On May 26, 2020, the Russian Ministry of Defense said the production of the prototype was started.
According to TASS news agency, “The production of airframe elements will be handled by one of the United Aircraft Corporation’s plants; development of working design documentation is complete, material shipping has commenced,” the source said.
The Russian PAK DA strategic stealth bomber is expected to officially launch in 2021. Also according to the TASS news agency, despite announcing that the production now started, the cockpit was built earlier.
Back in the past, by the end of 2019, Interfax news agency said the PAK DA stealth bomber has been officially identified as Poslanhik. Tupolev basically completed the detailed drawings. According to expectations once announced by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, the future PAK DA bomber will be tested in the period 2025 to 2026, mass production is expected to take place in 2028 or 2029.
PAK DA Design
Tupolev PAK DA is an ambitious Russian project, planned to replace the Tupolev Tu-22, Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers. While all of Russia’s current aircraft of heavy, strategic, nuclear-capable bombers all originate from the Soviet era, the PAK-DA will be based on an entirely new design. At the moment, the specifications of the PAK DA remain a secret.
However, based on the drawings that have appeared, the high possibility is that the Poslanhik will have a flying wing structure, similar to the American B-2 Spirit bomber. The flying wing style design is said to be optimized for radar wave scattering. But if the flying wing design is applied, almost certainly Poslanhik will only have subsonic speed. This special shape does not allow it to cross the sound wall while ensuring the necessary safety.
The Russian defense commentary suggested that the range could be 12,000 km and a capability to continuously remain in the air for up to 30 hours while carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads up to 30 tons. It will carry more bombs than the Tu-160M2. That led to the prediction that the size of Poslanhik would be relatively large, maybe 1.5 times that of B-2. The aircraft is expected to have a crew of 4.
PAK-DA will prioritize for stealth, it will use the latest technology and materials to reduce its radar signature. The bomber will be configured to carry all the air-launched cruise missiles currently in Russian arsenal, as well as hypersonic missiles like Kh-47M Kinzhal and precision-guided bombs. it will be provided with the newest communications and jamming equipment.
Russia will also develop a new weapon, guided by Artificial Intelligence, with a range of up to 7,000 km. These missiles, which can switch targets in mid-flight and autonomously adjust their flight path to evade radars. It is almost certain that the weapons will be stored in the PAK-DA’s internal weapons bay to ensure its stealth.
Any chance for PAK DA?
Based on the new information provided by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the manufacturing process of the Poslanhik bomber prototype will take place 3 years earlier and will be completed 4 years earlier than the previous plan. If the tests go well, the time for Russia to mass produce Poslanhik bombers will probably be in 2023, which is when the US B-21 Raider is expected to start on duty.
Russian military is confident that compared to Poslanhik, the B-21 Raider is inferior in all indicators. Certainly the information about Moscow starting to build a future bomber prototype will attract the attention of rivals.
Besides, there are also opinions that given the fact that Russia is still struggling to complete the Su-57 stealth fighter, It is unlikely that Moscow will soon be able to send Poslanhik bombers to the battlefield as soon as expected.
Currently, the US B-2 stealth bomber is one of the most feared weapons in the world. China is also developing its long-range stealth bomber, and the Xian H-20 could make its debut at an air show in November 2020, according to South China Morning Post.