Russia is likely to resume production of Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) supersonic strategic bombers, Tass reported Wednesday.
“It is necessary already today to start implementing tasks not only for keeping in good order and modernizing the fleet of long-range aviation but also for reproducing Tu-160 missile carriers,” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was quoted as saying by the agency during a visit to the Kazan plant.
The Tu-160 bomber is “a unique plane that has been several decades abreast of time and has not used its constructive possibilities to the full extent until now,” the Russian defense minister said.
Tu-60 is capable of moving at 2,200 km/hour and deliver free falling nuclear warheads and cruise missiles within a range of 7,300 km.
Russia has stepped up military spending and bomber patrols near European airspace amid tensions over crisis in Ukraine.
“Russia currently operates about 15 Tu-160s of which most of them are not available operationally,” Moscow Times quoted Douglas Barrie, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London as saying.
Tupolev, the Soviet design bureau behind the Tu-160, is also developing a next generation strategic bomber called the PAK DA that the company hopes will enter service in the mid-2020s.