Russian Ministry of Defence plans to fully replace the T-160 current fleet with modernized models.
“All the Tu-160 aircraft that comprise the long-range air force are to be replaced with modernized models. Taking into account prompt manufacturing and current technologies, I believe it will happen in the near future”, Commander of Long-Range Air Force Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash said in a press-briefing on Friday.
It was earlier decided in 2015 to resume manufacturing of the Tu-160 strategic bombers as the Tu-160M2 modernized version. Batch manufacturing is preliminary scheduled for 2020-2021 to produce first 50 aircraft.
The Tu-160 aircraft is considered to be a part of Russia’s nuclear triad. Russia recently turned down enquiries from wealthy foreign clients to convert Tupolev long-range bombers to supersonic business class jet.
“Wealthy foreign clients regularly address the Russian aircraft-building company Tupolev for making a private supersonic business class jet on the basis of Russia’s Strategic bombers Tupolev-160 or Tupolev-22M3,” Tupolev Deputy CEO for Design and R&D, Valery Solozobov had said on Tuesday.
All of the requests have been turned down. "Turning Tupolev-160 into a passenger plane would be a very costly affair. It is far less expensive to build a plane anew and without the know-hows used in creating the Tupolev-160," he explained, adding that a business class jet does not need a variable shape wing. Besides, some of the solutions used in the Tupolev-160 are classified.
"The retractable canards might be used, but they are not always necessary. Besides, most of the Tupolev-160 know-hows are secret, so building even a passenger configuration of this plane for private clients would be wrong," Solozobov had said.