The first prototype of the Tupolev Tu-160M2 Blackjack supersonic strategic bomber was rolled out.

Russia Tupolev Tu-160M2 Blackjack
New Russian Tupolev Tu-160M2 Blackjack bomber rollout

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation UAC has rolled out its first upgraded Tu-160M2 Blackjack at the Kazan Aviation Plant on November 16, 2017.

The new bomber is essentially a prototype of a next generation variant of the great Blackjack, it was probably built using the airframe of one of two aircraft that were left uncompleted after production of the original Tu-160.

Currently Russia operates 16 Blackjack aircraft as long-range cruise missile carriers as a key part of its strategic bomber force. The bombers have performed well during Russia’s Syria campaign acting as launch platforms for the stealthy MKB Raduga H-101 cruise missile.

The Tu-160M2 incorporates the same airframe of the Tu-160, but includes all-new avionics, electronics, cockpit, communications and control systems, as well as new weapons. New NK-32 series 02 engines of increased thrust are also to be incorporated. The advanced Blackjack is not stealth, but the Russian Air Force does not intend to penetrate into enemy airspace to deliver its payload. The Tu-160M2 will be equipped with long-range standoff cruise missiles.

According to the Russian defense industry source, the newly built Tu-160 will initially be capable of performing the same missions as the existing Blackjack fleet then it will be modified to the upgraded Tu-160M2 standard.

Tu-160M2 is expected to take off by the end of 2018, followed by serial production in 2021. The Russian Ministry of Defense plans to order at least 50 aircraft.

Photo credits: United Aircraft Corporation

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