MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. Russia’s latest modernized Tupolev Tu-22M3M long-range missile-carrying bomber has performed its debut flight, a source in the domestic defense industry told TASS on Friday.
"The first upgraded Tu-22M3M made the debut flight from the airfield of the Kazan-based Gorbunov Aircraft Enterprise on Friday. This flight started the missile-carrying bomber’s flight tests," the source said.
"There were no weapons aboard the aircraft and the flight was brief," the source said.
The Tu-22M3M was rolled out by the Gorbunov Aircraft Enterprise on August 16.
As another source in the Russian defense industry told TASS, until now, the bomber was undergoing a series of ground-based tests, during which specialists were checking its new onboard radio-electronic equipment, carrying out the ground-based engine runs and testing compatibility of the aircraft’s artificial intelligence elements.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said during his visit to the Kazan-based Aircraft Enterprise on December 20 that the heavily upgraded missile-carrying bomber would perform its debut flight in late December 2018.
Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation earlier said that the upgrade of operational Tu-22M3 planes to the level of the Tu-22M3M would begin from 2019 and the first serial-produced bombers would start arriving for the troops from 2021.
According to the data of the Tupolev Aircraft Company, the Tu-22M3M features considerably greater combat potential, including the enlarged operating range.
Ex-Commander of the Russian Aerospace Force Viktor Bondarev who now heads the Defense and Security Committee in the upper house of Russia’s parliament earlier said that the bomber’s new version will be capable of carrying Kh-32 cruise and also hypersonic missiles.