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MOSCOW, April 15. /TASS/. The work on the development of the PAK DA strategic bomber (prospective aviation complex for long-range aviation) continues and it will not be stopped, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said on Friday.
"We certainly are not going to stop the work on the development of PAK DA," Borisov said.
He added that Russia’s Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber is currently undergoing in-depth modernization.
"Tu-160M2 - is an aircraft with new capabilities and flight and life characteristics. Its tactical employment level is considerably higher than that of its ancestor. All the innovations appearing at present should be embodied in the next model, which will replace the Tu-160," Borisov said.
Borisov said in early March this year that the upgraded Tupolev-160 would boast fundamentally new parameters as compared with the planes already in service. He added that the manufacturers were proceeding with preparations for the manufacture of upgraded bombers in keeping with schedule.
In April last year, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered the production of the Tu-160 (NATO reporting name: Blackjack) resumed, albeit in an upgraded variant. The updated aircraft will be designated Tu-160M2. The Tu-160M2 differs from its antecedent in the sophisticated avionics and weapons suites earmarked for it. Essentially, it will be a new airplane with the old look.
Last year, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces Viktor Bondarev said that the main stages of the experimental design efforts for the PAK DA creation would begin after 2021. However, he said on January 2016 that the advanced strategic long-range aircraft’s prototype may take its maiden flight before 2021. He said the PAK DA creation works are underway and their progress rates were satisfactory. There is a task to conduct the (PAK DA`s) first flight in 2021. If the reached progress rates are maintained, the bomber will take the flight before the targeted time, Bondarev added.
It was earlier planned that the PAK DA bomber would start to be delivered to the Russian army in 2023-2025, and the first tests flights were planned for 2019-2020. It became known later that the creation of Russia’s new strategic bomber would be delayed because of the plans to resume serial production of Tu-160M2 that is planned to be started in 2023.