A number of Russian strategic bombers in inventory will undergo a modernization program, according to the Russian Deputy Defense Minister.
During a visit to the Kazan aircraft manufacturing plant, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov noted that Russia will modernize all of the Tu-160s currently in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces. Moreover, a number of Tu-22M3 bombers will see upgrades, too.
Sputnik International quoted Deputy Defense Minister Borisov as saying, “All 16 Tu-160 planes in service will undergo a 100-percent, deep, modernization…In addition, Tu-22M3 [Backfire] bombers will be upgraded, as well.”
He did not specify what the upgrades would include or when they would occur. Tu-160s and Tu-22M3s have participated in Russia’s military campaign in Syria, where Moscow is backing the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, against opposition groups and terror groups like the Islamic State.
Russia is also planning on manufacturing new bombers in the coming years.
Several years back, the country announced the restart of Tu-160 manufacturing, in a modernized form called the Tu-160M2. Russia aims to begin producing the first prototype Tu-160M2 this year. Serial production could begin in 2022, with the production of between two to three bombers annually.
Moreover, in the long term, Russia hopes to produce the PAK DA, a new-generation stealth bomber. Initial plans to produce the bomber in the coming years were shelved in favor of the Tu-160M2 program; at present, Russia anticipates having a PAK DA prototype make its first flight in 2025. Serial production may begin in 2028.