The modernised version of Soviet-era Tu-160 strategic bomber, is set to enter Russian military service in 2021.
“Construction of the modernised Tu-160M for the Ministry of Defense has already begun. The first contract delivery is scheduled for the end of 2021,” Alexander Konyukhov, General Director of PJSC Tupolev, was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Earlier this year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the aircraft will be equipped with the latest airborne defense system, a modern reliable communications system with enhanced noise immunity, a unique weapon that will significantly expand its combat capabilities when using conventional and nuclear weapons, tvzvezda.ru reported.
In all, 16 Tu-160 planes will be modernised under the program.
In April 2017, Rossiya-24 TV Channel reported that serial production of upgraded Tu-160M2 Blackjack supersonic strategic bomber will begin 2022. “Along with the production of Tu-160M2s, operational long-range combat aircraft, such as Tu-160s, Tu-95MSs and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, will be modernized,” the report added.
Moscow announced intent to make a comeback of Tu-160 plane in its upgraded Tu-160M2 variant in 2015.