Russia’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that it is to renew production of the its long range strategic nuclear bomber the Tupolev TU-160 (NATO Codename BLACKJACK).
The TU-160 first flew in 1981 and was believed to be Russia’s answer to the Rockwell B1-B Lancer and the type cerainly has many similarities, a trait often found with Soviet aircraft. It has recently started a major modernisation and upgrade programme and this new production run makes it the only Russian bomber still in production.
Unlike the TU-95 (NATO: Bear) aircraft it was built solely for delivering nuclear payloads by method of cruise missile and the new types are likely to carry Russia new range of Raduga built cruise missiles which are upgraded versions of the “kent” air launched cruise missile (ALCM).
The Russian Air Force currently has 13 TU-160’s in service with 14 on order according to Flight Global.