Russia is planning to start serial production of an upgraded Tupolev Tu-160M2 Blackjack supersonic strategic bomber by 2022.
President of Russia’s Aircraft-Building Corporation Yuri Slyusar said in an interview with Rossiya-24 TV Channel on Tuesday that UAC would build from 30 to 50 of the bombers annually.
"We are concluding R&D work in 2021 and starting from 2022 we are beginning the serial production of these machines. We are discussing the exact figure with the customer. I believe their number will range from 30 to 50 machines," Slyusar added. Two-three such aircraft were planned to be produced each year.
Along with the production of Tu-160M2s, operational long-range combat aircraft, such as Tu-160 and Tu-95MS missile carriers and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, will be modernized, report says.
In 2015, Russia announced the comeback of the Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-160 in its upgraded Tu-160M2 variant, pushing back the final phase of developing the next-generation PAK DA bomber until later. Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov had said in October 2016 that 50 such planes were planned to be produced.
According to a report by RBTH in August last year, the Tu-160M2 will see its first flight in late 2018.
The upgraded variant could be carrying H-101 and H-555 new-generation long-range winged missiles and is also capable of carrying the H-55SM winged missile with programmed coordinates for striking targets on the ground. The Tu-160 can be equipped with any type of nuclear and ordinary bombs: armor-piercing, concrete-piercing, cluster, naval mines, etc. The total weight of the warheads can reach 40 tons.