The first Tupolev Tu-160M supersonic strategic bomber to be manufactured in more than 25 years successfully completed its initial flight on Wednesday. The flight, which launched from the airfield at Tupolev’s Kazan Aviation Plant in Kazan, Russia, lasted about 30 minutes. According to the company, maneuvers were preformed to check the stability and controllability of the aircraft in the air.
“We have restored the full production cycle of the Tu-160, but already in the M modification, using modernized engines, modernized aircraft control systems, navigation systems, and weapons control systems,” said Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation [translated]. “The modernization of the Kazan Aviation Plant played an important role in restoring the production of unique aircraft: the equipment of the shops, the flight test base was updated, and the world’s largest installation for electron beam welding and vacuum annealing of titanium was put into operation.”
Tupolev, which is part of the Rostec State Corporation’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), says that more than 40 percent of the workshop equipment at the Kazan Aviation Plant was “updated and modernized” for the program. The latest version of the Tupolev Tu-160, the new-production Tu-160M has reportedly had around 80 percent of its systems and equipment upgraded including the addition of the new NK-32 Series 2 engine developed by Rostec’s United Engine Corporation. The original Tu-160 model entered service in 1987.