Russia has started development work on defensive systems for the Tu-160M2 to help shield it from missiles as well as other components.
In an interview with Tass News Agency on June 14, 2017, the first deputy CEO of Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) Vladimir Mikheyev said, “We understand that they [the bombers] will have a principally new defensive aids system which is being developed as part of a new R&D effort. It will protect against all possible types of missiles. The system will detect targets at a distance of several hundred kilometers.”
The system will be intended to identify incoming threats and neutralize them.
Regarding navigation components, he said, “In this area, the requirements for navigation are changed completely. In this sense, everything will be principally new. The aircraft will feature a strapdown inertial navigation system, a new astronavigation system and a whole number of instruments, including a new satellite navigation system.”
Russia has recently begun work on a prototype Tu-160M2, which may make its first flight as early as 2018 or 2019. The bomber is a modernized version of the Tu-160.
Once production lines open, Russia expects to produce two or three bombers annually, with a goal of eventually producing between 30 and 50 bombers for the Russian Aerospace Forces. Currently, Russia anticipates beginning serial production in 2021 at the earliest.
Russia will also modernize existing Tu-160s already in its inventories.