Tass News Agency quoted Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov as saying, “We expect the first flight somewhere in 2025-2026 and the beginning of its serial production in 2028-2029.”
The statements by the Deputy Defense Minister follow a Tass report which, citing a source, noted that development of a first prototype PAK DA would be ready by the early 2020s.
Moscow initially aimed for the bomber to take flight in 2019, with serial production beginning several years later. However, possibly as a result of the financial outlook amid low energy prices and foreign sanctions, Russia has opted to instead restart production of the Tu-160. The Tu-160 will be produced in a new, modernized form called the Tu-160M2.
Production of the first prototype Tu-160M2 may begin soon.
Russia prepping for Tu-160M2 production. Photos (c) @DRogozin http://t.co/D07RDxktBp pic.twitter.com/cHR2SxOhP6
— Derek Bisaccio (@DerekBisaccio) April 25, 2017
United Aircraft Corporation President Yuri Slyusar recently stated he believed Tu-160M2s will enter serial production in 2022. Russia expects to be able to produce two or three such bombers annually once production lines are ready.
Russian officials have still insisted that work on the advanced next-generation bomber will continue despite the restart in Tu-160M2 production. The overall success of efforts to create the stealth bomber will be reflected in the Tu-160M2 program.
As W4T noted earlier this month,
“The military may order 30 to 50 Tu-160M2s over the life of the program. It is likely that the pace of PAK DA development, as well as the unit cost of a serial model, will play a role in determining how many Tu-160M2s the military ultimately opts to procure.”
Russian officials anticipate demonstrating the PAK DA bomber — without further specification — in 2018.