Russia is one of only 3 countries in the world to have a strategic triad, namely nuclear deterrence based simultaneously on land, naval and air vectors. For the time being, this third component is the worst off, with only 16 Tu-160M supersonic strategic bombers, the bulk of the force still being made up of fifty Tu-95MS turboprop. It is precisely to replace these devices that the Russian authorities launched, in 2015, a program to restore the assembly line of the Tu-160 in a new modernized standard called Tu-160M2, and to produce 35 new devices, so that at the same time, the Russian aviation industry is developing the PAK-DA stealth strategic bomber program, the latter to enter service at the end of this decade.
Le first modernized Tu-160M2 made its first flight in February 2020, but the aircraft concerned was an unfinished Tu-160M airframe preserved after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, on the other hand, the Tu-160M2, which made a first 30-minute flight at an altitude of 600 meters according to the Russian press release, is an entirely new airframe, and demonstrates that the reconstruction effort undertaken by Russia from the assembly line but also the entire subcontracting network for this device is now operational. And we can now expect that the Russian strategic forces can undertake the modernization effort announced in 2015, providing for the delivery of 35 new Tu-160M2 and the modernization of the 15 Tu-160M to this standard in the next 10 years.
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