Russia’s modernized Tu-160M bomber with new domestically-developed NK-32 engines has completed factory tests.
The bomber’s new engine has reportedly increased the range of the aircraft by 1,000km.
"The aircraft has successfully passed factory tests. Today the new missile carrier has been transferred to the Tupolev flight test base for preparation for the next stage of flights - preliminary tests," Rostec said in a statement Wednesday.
The aircraft has already been taken to Zhukovsky airfield.
The Tu-160MS bombers are currently equipped with modern cruise missiles such as Kh-101 (product 504) and Kh-102 (a variant of a missile with a thermonuclear warhead). These aircraft will be armed with Kh-BD cruise missile with a range that’s expected to surpass its predecessor Kh-101’s 4,500km.
"We are developing new aircraft weapons, and the Tu-160 aircraft cannot be compared with missiles Kh-55, Kh-550, even Kh-101 and the aircraft, which we hope to receive in series by the 2030s with new aircraft weapons that will have completely different ranges,” In March 2018, Yuri Borisov, being the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, told reporters.
The first "deeply modernized" Tu-160M bomber made its first flight a year ago.
Alexander Konyukhov, General Director of PJSC Tupolev, had told Interfax that the Russian forces will be able to take the delivery of the Tu-160M upgraded aircraft in 2021.
In all, 16 Tu-160 Soviet-era planes are said to be covered under the modernisation program. The aircraft will be equipped with the latest airborne defense system, a modern reliable communications system with enhanced noise immunity, and a "unique weapon" that will reportedly significantly expand its combat capabilities when using conventional and nuclear weapons. It will be able to carry 2 cruise missiles on board, all weapons are located inside the fuselage.