MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry uploaded a video to its official YouTube channel showing the debut flight of the Tu-160M ‘Igor Sikorsky’ heavily upgraded strategic missile-carrying bomber.
As the press office of the Tupolev Aircraft Company reported earlier, the flight took place at the aerodrome of the Kazan Aviation Factory (a branch of the company) on February 2 and lasted 34 minutes. During the test flight, the aircraft climbed to a maximum altitude of 1,500 meters.
The Tu-160M bomber that performed the debut flight has been made on the basis of the operational bomber Tu-160 ‘Igor Sikorsky’ (side No 14, red color). The video uploaded by the Defense Ministry shows the remaining part of the name on the plane’s fuselage. The aircraft-building industry explained for TASS that there were no plans to rename the plane after the upgrade.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said in an interview with the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda in December 2019 that the deliveries of heavily upgraded T-160M bombers to the troops were due to begin from 2021.
The deputy defense minister later said in an article published in the corporate magazine Radio-Electronic Technologies issued by KRET Group that Russia’s first Tu-160M bomber manufactured ‘from scratch’ as compared to its upgraded version would make its debut flight in 2021.
The newly manufactured Tu-160 bombers and their heavily upgraded versions will not differ from each other but technically they have received different labels from the Defense Ministry: the Tu-160M for upgraded operational aircraft and the Tu-160M2 for bombers manufactured ‘from scratch.’
The Tu-160M features the latest onboard defensive aids suite, an advanced and reliable communications system with enhanced jamming resistance and unique weapons that will boost considerably its combat capabilities when it employs both conventional and nuclear munitions.