Newest Tu 160M Supersonic Mach 2+ bomber arrives in mid 2022
By Boyko Nikolov on Feb 4, 2022
MOSCOW, ($1= Russian Rubles) — Russia expects its first all-new supersonic strategic bomber, reaching Mach 2+ by the end of the second quarter. This information was announced to journalists today, January 4, by the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov. This means that in the second half of 2022 the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation will conduct state and flight tests and most likely in At the end of 2022, the Tu-160M will be officially adopted.
Photo credit: FlugRevue
The first Tu-160M was supposed to be delivered in 2023, but “we managed to accomplish this task sooner,” says Manturov. According to the minister, the Kremlin’s decision to resume production of the Tu-160 bomber program is timely. According to Manturov, the new Tu-160M opens up new opportunities for greater development of “Russia’s promising long-range aviation complex.”
The resumption of the Tu-160 program was discussed in early 2015 after Foreign Minister Sergei Shoigu read an order from Russian President Vladimir Putin. That same year, TASS reported that Russia planned to buy a total of 50 bombers of this model. Serial production began as planned in 2019. At the end of this year, Russia should receive a second Tu-160M for tests, which will be held in early 2023.
The new Tu-160M / M2
The differences between the Tu-160M / M2 and the Tu-160 built during the Soviet era are not great. Russia claims that the Tu-160M / M2 will have new weapons systems, avionics, and electronics, which will improve the combat capability of the bomber. This information is missing in detail and cannot be confirmed.
Photo credit: Russian MoD
What we know for sure is that after Putin gave the green light in 2015 to resume production of the bomber, the manufacturer Kazan Aviation Plant [KAPO] resumed and renewed its production in the field of electron beam welding or titanium work. Also, the new Tu-160M / M2 will have completely rebuilt hulls. Until now, the renovations of the Tu-160M were carried out by assembling old hulls existing in stock or by old bombers.
We can assume that the load that the new Tu-160M / M2 will carry will also differ, as technological advances are different. For example, BulgarianMilitary.com recalled that in 2020 the Russian Ministry of Defense conducted flight tests of an old Tu-160 armed with a hypersonic missile Kh-47M2 Kinzhal. The tests evaluated the Tu-160’s ability to launch the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal and were successful ie we assume that the new Tu-160M / M2 will be a carrier of hypersonic weapons.
Photo credit: Defence Blog
According to Russian military experts, in addition to hypersonic missiles, the Tu-160M / M2 will be a carrier of various cruise missiles, as well as a short-range hypersonic aero-ballistic missile.
Main features of the Tu-160
From what we know and as we said, the difference between the old and the new Tu-160 is not big. Some features will be preserved. For example, the development of a maximum speed of Mach 2+ remains. Cruise speed of 960 km / h too.
The crew of the Tu-160 consists of four people – pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, defensive systems officer. It is not known what engine the new Tu-160 will be powered by, but the old version used Kuznetsov NK-32 – an after-burning three-spool low bypass turbofan jet engine, providing 137.3 kN thrust each dry, 245 kN with afterburner.
However, it is rumored that a new engine has been designed – NK-32-02 turbofans from Kuznetsov . The reason for these rumors is the flight tests in September 2020, when two Tu-160 set a world record for range and duration of non-stop flight for aircraft of this class. The pilots were in the air for more than 25 hours, traveling more than 20,000 kilometers. The flight took place in the airspace above the neutral waters.
Photo credit: Russian MoD
There will be no significant differences in other characteristics. It is assumed that the length of the bomber will remain 54.1 meters; the wingspan will be close to 55.7 meters with an area of about 400 m2 with outstretched wings. An empty bomber will weigh about 110,000 kg, but full of equipment, crew, weapons, weapons systems, missiles and bombs will be able to take off with a maximum weight of 275,000 kg.
B-1 Lancer, Tu-160 differences
Photo credit: USAF
Although we want to, we cannot compare the American B-1 Lancer bomber with its Russian counterpart Tu-160 simply because they are two different classes of fighter jets. Unlike the US bomber, the Russian Tu-160 has another role – an anti-aircraft missile platform, which characterizes it as a strategic missile carrier.
Another difference is speed. The Russian bomber is faster and has a greater combat range. However, the B-1B has a higher combined payload with an external payload.
Of course, the most significant difference between the two bombers is their color-coding. B-1 is usually muted dark gray to reduce visibility, while the Tu-160 is painted white against lightning, which gives it the nickname among Russian pilots “White Swan”.