New Kazan strategic bombardier hits the sky

The Kazan Aviation Plant delivered two Tu-160M strategic bombers, mass production can start after that

Two Tu-160M strategic missile carriers built at the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant were handed over to militaries for flight testing. The first one is an absolutely new Kazan strategic experienced bomber with the full cycle of plant testing built from scratch. The second is the ordinary Tu-160 plane that was thoroughly modernised. According to the Kazan plant’s Director Nikolay Savitskikh, with the delivery of the test sample of the bomber Kazan successfully performed the ambitious task of reequipping the army. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

First new Tu-160 tested by militaries

The first test sample of Tu-160M strategic bomber designed by Tupolev PJSC performed another flight, the press service of the United Aircraft Engineering Corporation said on 30 December. Its other name is Tu-160 new.

“Manoeuvres allowing testing the endurance and manageability of the plane in the air, the workability of plane systems and engines as well as radio and electronic equipment were performed during the flight,” the message reads.

By that moment, the first bomber engineered from scratch went through a set of plant testing. It lasted for nearly a year. The new bomber hit the sky as early as January 2022 and was improved since then. The programme was under control of the country’s top management during the year. Both Yury Borisov (now Roscosmos’s CEO) and Russian Vice Minister Denis Manturov arrived in Kazan over this time.

“We performed the task this year: we delivered the new Tu-160M and another modernised plane,” the Kazan plant’s Director Nikolay Savitskikh told Realnoe Vremya. At the same time, the plant modernised the ordinary Tu-160 according to plan.

The Tu-160M strategic bomber reproduction programme kicked off at the Kazan Aviation Plant according to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s decree long before the start of the special military operation. As early as 2018, the Russian Defence Ministry and Tupolev PJSC (part of Rostec) signed a public contract for 160 billion rubles to build the strategic bombers. During the signing, the Russian Ministry of Defence set the task of building the first lot of 10 new bombers. So we can say with the delivery of the first Tu-160M, the Kazan Aviation Plant can start the mass production. At the same time, the plant continues works on the thorough modernisation of the current fleet of Tu-160, which is in operational use of the command of the Russian Armed Forces.

Chemezov on Tu-160M: all is new there — both the engine and aircraft equipment

The execution of the Tu-160 engineering and modernisation programme is controlled by the country’s president. In May 2022, Vladimir Putin received a report of Rostec’s CEO Sergey Chemezov. The latter reported on the completion of the total modernisation of Tu-160M missile carrier with a new NK-32 engine.

“In fact, we created new aircraft. Only the previous design didn’t change, in fact, all is new there: both the new engine and aircraft equipment are new, all devices were replaced,” said Chemezov.

Also, all Tu-160 documentation was digitalised. “We digitalised all the documentation because the latest aircraft was built at the Kazan plant in the 1980s,” the head of Rostec specified.

The new NK-32 engines for the Kazan strategic bombers are built in a Samara enterprise of the United Aircraft Engineering Corporation. The works on their engineering started in 2016.

“These strategic missile carriers provide the offensive firepower of the air components of the country’s nuclear triad. Therefore the enhancement of their military efficacy is one of our priority tasks,” Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said as early as July 2021. According to him, the new NK-32 second-series engines allow significantly increasing the range and duration of the flight by reducing brake fuel consumption.

Kazan continues repair and technical modernisation

The modernisation of Tu-160 strategic missile carriers used by the Russian Armed Forces takes several months. The first plane of the fleet was handed over for repairs in late November 2019. Several months later, on 2 February, the upgraded bomber hit the sky. As the press service of the Ministry of Defence said then, the flight of the modernised missile carrier lasted for 34 minutes at a height of 1,500 metres. Within the full modernisation, the Tu-160 was provided with new equipment and GPS, a communication complex, a control system, a radar, electronic countermeasures. Three modernised bombers and one new missile carrier have been produced since the beginning of the Tu-160M reproduction programme.

Two years ago, the Kazan Aviation Plant started thorough modernisation of Tu-22M3M missile carriers. It is installed state-of-the-art digital radio and electronic equipment based on Russian hardware components. In particular, the planes got new GPS and aiming equipment, engine and fuel automatic control, electronic warfare and communication equipment. The replacement of 80% of digital radio and electronic equipment will allow improving the accuracy of GPS and the automation level of Tu-22M3M control, simplify its technical maintenance and pre-flight checkout.

Luiza Ignatyeva
Sports Tatarstan