A first example of the Tu-160M2 strategic bomber has been rolled out at the Kazan Aviation Plant, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) announced today, November 16.
The aircraft is thought to use the airframe of one of two aircraft that were left uncompleted after production of the original Tu-160 came to an end in 1994. These are serials 8-04 and 8-05, both of which are expected to become test aircraft for the Tu-160M2 version.
The Tu-160M2 incorporates the same basic airframe as the existing Tu-160 Blackjack, but includes all-new avionics, electronics, cockpit, communications and control systems, as well as new weapons. New NK-32 series 02 engines of increased thrust are also to be incorporated.
The Tu-160M2 project was first announced in public in April 2015, during a visit to the Kazan factory by the Russian minister of defence Sergei Shoygu. In February 2016, the commander-in-chief of the Aerospace Forces Viktor Bondarev declared that the first new Tu-160M2 would fly in 2019 after which series production would commence.
According to Russian news agency TASS, series production of the improved Tu-160M2 for the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) will begin in 2020. Quoting an unnamed source in the defence and industrial sector, the report stated that two to three Tu-160M2s will be produced annually by the Gorbunov Aircraft Plant in Kazan under a contract signed by UAC and the Russian Defence Ministry.
In October 2016, deputy defence minister Yuri Borisov announced the VKS had a total requirement for 50 Tu-160M2s.