UAC delivers first re-engined Tu-160 bomber for testing

by Gareth Jennings

United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has handed over the first Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjack’ strategic bomber to be fitted with new engines, Rostec announced on 10 March.

The first Tu-160 bomber fitted with upgraded NK-32-02 engines makes its approach into the Tupolev flight test and development base in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, where it will perform flight trails ahead of delivery to the Russian Aerospace Forces later this year. (Rostec)

The first Tu-160 bomber fitted with upgraded NK-32-02 engines makes its approach into the Tupolev flight test and development base in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, where it will perform flight trails ahead of delivery to the Russian Aerospace Forces later this year. (Rostec)

The aircraft with its four new NK-32-02 engines and other upgraded equipment was flown from the Kazan Aviation Plant to the Tupolev flight test and development base in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, where it will perform flight trails ahead of delivery to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) later this year.

“The aircraft has successfully passed factory tests. Today, the new missile carrier has been transferred to the Tupolev flight test base for preparation for the next stage of flights: preliminary tests,” Rostec said.

News of the handover for preliminary test came 13 months after the aircraft made its maiden flight in February 2020.

The Tu-160 first entered into Soviet service in the late 1980s. The swing-wing supersonic bomber has since undergone several upgrades, including a bolstering of the aircraft’s nuclear armament capacity in the early 2000s to carry 12 conventionally armed Raduga NPO Kh-555 (AS-15 ‘Kent’) long-range cruise missiles and laser-guided bombs.

The Tu-160M upgrade is being rolled out in two phases, with the first Tu-160M1 phase comprising the new K-042K-1 navigation system and ABSU-200-1 autopilot, as well as the removal of some previous systems, such as bomb sighting systems. This Tu-160M1-variant has been operational with the air force since late 2014.

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United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has handed over the first Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjack’ strategic bom...

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