12:00 AM, August 21, 2009
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Igor Shevchuk, director general of Tupolev design bureau said at the MAKS-2009 air show that The Russian ministry of defense and the Tupolev have signed a contract for the development of a new-generation strategic bomber. "We signed a contract this year on research and development of a future strategic bomber for the Russian strategic aviation. It will be a conceptually new plane based on the most advanced technologies," he added. Russia's existing force of Soviet-era Tu-95MC Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers, Tu-22M3 Backfire long-range bombers and Il-78 Midas aerial tankers will continue to form the form the backbone of Russia's strategic air force command in the coming decade as these aircraft have been extensively modernized. However, Russian authorities said these updated aircraft will be obsolete by 2020, and a new strategic bomber will have to take their place. Russia's Air Force commander, Col Gen Alexander Zelin had said earlier that a fifth-generation strategic bomber could be effective in both conventional and nuclear conflicts. "The new plane will use a wide selection of high-precision weapons, and will have a whole range of new combat capabilities, allowing it to apply new methods to carrying out deterrence tasks," Gen Zelin said.
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