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ASHULUK RANGE/Astrakhan region/, May 28. /TASS/. Russia’s Air Force will purchase at least 50 Tu-160M strategic bombers, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force, Gen.Viktor Bondarev said on Thursday.
"The supreme commander [president of Russia - TASS] and the Russian defense minister have taken a decision on reviving production of the Tu-160M aircraft [NATO reporting name: Blackjack]," he stressed.
The industry "has confirmed its possibilities" on restarting the production of these bombers, he said.
"The production of the aircraft will be restarted. To cover all the outlay of the production, at least 50 aircraft will be purchased in course of time," Bondarev said.
The decision on reviving the production of Tu-160 M will not hamper the creation of a new strategic bomber dubbed PAK DA (prospective aviation complex of long-range aviation).
The reproduction of this model will be carried out simultaneously with the development of the new one, Bondarev said.
"Of course, we have no right to do it otherwise," Viktor Bondarev said in reply to the query whether the revival of the Tu-160M production could interfere with the designing of a new generation strategic bomber, and whether work on both planes would proceed simultaneously.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered to study the issue of resuming the production of Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic strategic bombers at the Kazan aviation plant in the Volga Republic of Tatarstan in late April. There are currently around 15 Tu-160s in service that are undergoing modernization due to be completed in 2019.
The Tu-160 bomber is "a unique plane that has been several decades abreast of time and has not used its constructive possibilities to the full extent until now," the Russian defense minister said.
"No one has devised a better plane in the supersonic category up to date," Shoigu said.
Russia is currently developing a new strategic bomber dubbed PAK DA (prospective aviation complex of long-range aviation). The new bomber is expected to make its first flight in 2019 and become operational in the Russian Air Force approximately in 2023-2025.
The Kazan Aviation Plant, founded in 1927, is a subsidiary of JSC Tupolev. It currently manufactures special purpose aircraft on the basis of Tu-214, as well as repairs and modernises bombers. In addition, the company manufactures and supplies components and assemblies within the framework of cooperation with other plants of the United Aircraft Corporation. In particular, the Kazan plant is preparing for the production of wings and tail assembly for the IL-476 planes.