MOSCOW, April 11. /TASS/. The serial production of upgraded Tupolev Tu-160M2 (NATO reporting name: Blackjack) strategic missile carriers will begin from 2022 and a total of 30-50 such aircraft are planned to be produced, President of Russia’s Aircraft-Building Corporation Yuri Slyusar said on Tuesday.
"We are concluding R&D work in 2021 and starting from 2022 we are beginning the serial production of these machines. We are discussing the exact figure with the customer. I believe their number will range from 30 to 50 machines," Slyusar said in an interview with Rossiya-24 TV Channel.
A source in the defense and industrial sector earlier told TASS that the serial production of the modernized Tu-160M2 missile carrier would begin in 2020 and two-three such aircraft were planned to be produced each year.
Along with the production of Tu-160M2s, operational long-range combat aircraft, such as Tu-160 and Tu-95MS missile carriers and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, will be modernized.
The idea to restart the production of Tu-160 planes in their upgraded version was put forward by Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu in April 2015 during his visit to the Kazan aircraft enterprise, part of the Tupolev aerospace company.
In May that year, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave instructions to resume the production of these aircraft. Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said in October 2016 that 50 such planes were planned to be produced.