Russia unveiled its new Tu-160M2 Blackjack long-range super bomber on Thursday — an upgrade to the Tu-160M and original Tu-160, according to The Drive.
“While ostensibly an improved variant of the Soviet-era Tu-160, the Tu-160M2 is a new bomber in all but name,” Russian media said, according to The Aviationist.
The new Blackjack is expected to make its maiden flight in 2018 and go into mass production in 2021.
Its full capabilities are therefore still unknown — but here’s what we know so far:
Russia unveiled the new Tu-160M2 White Swan — codenamed Blackjack by NATO — on Thursday.
It’s an upgrade to the Tu-160M, which entered Russian service in 2014.
The original Tu-160 first entered Soviet service in 1987.
The Tu-160 is often compared to the US’ B-1B Lancer.
Its full capabilities are still unknown, but other than keeping the same frame, it will reportedly be a much different aircraft.
It will reportedly have a new engine — four of the NK-32 02 series seen below — which will add 600 miles to its flying range.
It will also reportedly have new avionics, sensors, and communications equipment.
Including improved inertial, satellite, and astro-navigation equipment. An active electronically scanned array radar will be to able to detect targets at longer ranges and with better accuracy.
It will also most likely be fitted with a new KRET defensive suite.
The new Tu-160M2 will probably be used for the same kind of missions as the older Tu-160M version, and carry the same Kh-101 and nuclear Kh-102 cruise missiles.
Russia hopes to buy at least 50 of the new Tu-160M2s.
Below is a video of the new Blackjack rolling out of the hanger.