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6 Feb, 2020 15:03

Russia’s modernized Tu-160M nuclear-capable bomber takes to the skies for the 1st time (VIDEO)

A modernized Tu-160, Russia’s iconic strategic bomber, with brand new avionics, controls, and other equipment, took its maiden flight. The changes are said to have doubled its combat effectiveness.

Footage of the modernized plane was released by the Russian military on Thursday, though the test flight took place earlier this month at the Kazan aircraft plant proving grounds. The plane took a short trip, remaining in the air for about half an hour at an altitude of 1,500 meters.

The Tu-160 nuclear-capable supersonic bomber was introduced at the end of the Soviet era and has remained in the service of the Russian Air Force since then. All the existing aircraft are set to be upgraded to the advanced ‘M’ and ‘M2’ versions, while a number of Tu-160M2 planes are expected to be produced from scratch.


The plane has received new avionics and communication equipment, as well as new command and control, radar and electronic warfare stations. The combat effectiveness of the aircraft is said to have been doubled by the new equipment.

The ‘M’ and ‘M2’ versions are also expected to receive new, more efficient engines, which will expand the operational range by 1,000 kilometers – and the standard Tu-160 planes already have an impressive operational range of 13,000 kilometers without refueling. It remains unclear, however, if the modernized plane has already received the new engines.


Apart from the under-the-hood changes, the plane has apparently received some structural tweaks as well. The aircraft has a handful of new body panels and, therefore, its livery looks quite beaten-up. Judging by what remains of the experimental aircraft’s paintjob, it was the Igor Sikorsky Tu-160 jet, serial number 4-05, that received the ‘M’ makeover.

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