MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. Another Tupolev Tu-160M strategic missile-carrying bomber took to the skies for the first time after its upgrade, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) reported on Monday.
"Another upgraded Tu-160M strategic missile-carrying bomber developed by the Tupolev Company (part of the UAC within the state tech corporation Rostec) performed its debut flight," the UAC press office said in a statement.
During the flight, the bomber’s pilots performed maneuvers to check the aircraft’s stability and control in the air, the operating capacity of its systems and engines and onboard radio-electronic equipment, it said.
The Tu-160M (NATO reporting name: Blackjack) is an upgraded version of the Tu-160 bomber developed in the Soviet era and dubbed "the White Swan" among pilots. Along with the Tu-95MS bombers, these planes are the mainstay of the Russian Aerospace Force’s long-range aviation. The Tu-160M is the largest supersonic aircraft in the history of military aviation and the world’s heaviest warplane capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The Tu-160 was engineered in response to the Rockwell B-1 Lancer bomber developed in the United States.
In April 2015, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu handed down an order to resume the production of Tu-160 bombers from scratch. The aircraft had to be heavily upgraded compared to the operational aircraft, which actually meant creating a new combat plane. The decision to restart the production of Tu-160 bombers was prompted, among other things, by the need to create a fundamentally new next-generation strike aircraft platform.