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    Tu-160 "White Swan"

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    Post  GarryB on Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:32 pm

    That is disappointing news actually.

    The fact that they are just going to make the NK-32 engine rather than a newer design based on the progress in materials and engine technology since the early 1980s when the T-160 was designed is disappointing in itself, but the fact that they only plan to make a couple of dozen by 2020 clearly shows there is no intention of re-engining the Tu-22M3s too.

    If you asked me I would say that making a few dozen engines over a period of 7 years is pretty inefficient and that because updating the aircraft is going ahead that it makes sense to update the engines and perhaps unify the two engine types in the Blackjack and the Backfire into one new more modern engine type. There is potential to create a series of new engine types based on either the NK-25 or NK-32 and to develop them in a series of stages just as they are doing with the Al-31 to create an all new 5th gen engine.

    The engine in this case could eventually be fitted to the PAK DA and might allow it to supercruise... which would be enormously more useful than just having an AB sprint capability of mach 2 or whatever.
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    Post  George1 on Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:27 am

    Tu-160 production has been restarted?
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    Post  GarryB on Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:14 pm

    A few unfinished airframes were completed, but the complex and expensive main beam structure made of a large solid piece of Aluminium was made in the Ukraine in a factory that no longer exists.

    Otherwise they would likely build another 40-50 Blackjacks and retire a few Bears.

    What they will likely actually do is upgrade the existing Bears and Blackjacks and keep them in operation for the next 10 years or so and by about 2022 they will likely introduce a new strategic bomber to replace the Bear and Blackjack.

    They talk about upgrading the Backfire too.

    The new aircraft will be both a strategic and a theatre range bomber, with a rather heavy theatre range payload, while the strategic range will come from reduced payload plus extra onboard fuel.

    Most fan art shows the Sukhoi T-4S based design, but I think a flying wing configuration optimised for supercruise performance might combine high overall speed with low radar cross section.

    Such a platform could perform the roles of strategic and theatre bomber, and at the same time could be adapted to the long range interceptor role and perhaps maritime patrol and several other roles like recon etc.

    So on paper it could not only replace the Tu-95 and Tu-160 and Tu-22M3, it could also replace the Mig-31, and the Tu-142 and Il-38, and the Tu-22MR and Su-24MR as well.

    The other option might simply be a more modern Tu-160.
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    Post  George1 on Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:33 pm

    I think that they could keep Blackjacks in operation for many years after 2022.
    Tu-160 could be assigned the conventional role like the B-1 in USA and the PAK-DA for nuclear bomber role.

    A maritime patrol variant of Tu-160 also could be considered for the replacement of long range Tu-142.

    A view of the russian bombers could be this for the next decade:

    Strategic bomber: PAK-DA
    Conventional bomber: Tu-160
    Fighter Bomber: Su-34
    Strike Fighter: Su-30
    Attack aircraft: Su-25SM
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    Post  GarryB on Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:01 am

    The economic reality is that the T-95 is cheaper to operate than the Tu-160.
    The military reality is that the Russians haven't had strategic bombers for decades now, as they have had the Tu-22M3, which is a theatre range aircraft, while the Blackjack and Bear are cruise missile carrier aircraft.

    With new upgrades all three aircraft are supposed to get compatibility with guided air to ground weapons and a range of conventional weapons up to an including the father of all bombs.

    Unlike the US B-52s the Tu-95 is actually based on the redesigned Tu-142, which has new wings and other new features designed in the late 1970s, and the aircraft themselves were built in the 1980s and 1990s, as were the Blackjacks, so they are still very young aircraft.

    With efficient, modern 5th gen engines the new PAK DA might be able to supercruise at mach 1.5 or so, which is slower than the current Blackjack and Backfire, but on long flights works out faster because of the higher average speed over a subsonic aircraft that has a supersonic dash over the target area.

    The point is that the new aircraft will still largely be a cruise missile carrier that never needs to get closer than about 4,000km distance from its targets as it will be using 5,000km range cruise missiles on strategic missions. For theatre missions a payload of 30-40 tons of satellite guided munitions would be plenty and with a range of weapon weights would allow a range of targets to be engaged with long loiter times and combat persistence.

    Very simply an aerodynamic flying wing shape, that can supercuise and was relatively stealthy with a theatre range payload of 40-50 tons, with 25-35 tons of weapon capacity replaced with extra fuel on strategic missions leaving 15 tons for a cruise missile payload of 6 missiles or so internally would be fine.

    Remember having super strategic bombers able to carry 30 cruise missiles will just mean you will only be allowed 20 aircraft or so under START.

    Like the Boreys, a reduced number per vessel with more vessels means better coverage of targets and more targets to deal with for the enemy.

    The Tu-160 is optimised for range and speed... the range is useful in maritime patrol aircraft, but a lot of flight time for an MPA is at low level and subsonic speed.

    The Tu-142 already has a problem that when communicating with subs that are submerged it releases a wire antenna that is several kms long and to keep it near vertical it has to fly dangerously near its stalling speed.

    With its swing wings and high lift devices on its wings the Blackjack could probably fly slower more safely than the swept wing Bear, but the purpose of the Blackjack is high speed penetration of enemy airspace.

    If the PAK DA is a flying wing configuration aircraft with very long range and the ability to fly relatively slow or fast then I think it might have potential (with perhaps engines optimised for lower speeds) in the MPA role, but I think a long range interception role like the Tu-128 Fiddler might be an option.

    There wont be a PAK DA flying till at least 2018, and more likely 2020.

    I personally think developing a new 5th gen engine based on the NK-32 that could be fitted to the current Tu-22M3 and Tu-160 would be well worth the money spent. Making them for the Tu-160 alone would make it more expensive as there are rather more Backfires than Blackjacks, so even though the Backfire only uses two engines... currently of a different type (NK-25) but with basically similar performance and specs, that they could do with the bombers what they are doing with the fighters at the moment.

    The Su-35 benefits from the improvements made to the PAK FAs engines, and rather more importantly doing this with the bombers means improved compatibility as the new engine will replace two older engines and its development will not only lead to an optimised new engine for the PAK DA, but the existing in service aircraft will also benefit from its development.

    Perhaps they could even develop a propfan version for the Tu-95 and Tu-142? If it is powerful enough and reliable enough they could fit two to each An-70 instead of the 4 currently planned.

    A view of the russian bombers could be this for the next decade:

    Strategic bomber: PAK-DA
    Conventional bomber: Tu-160
    Fighter Bomber: Su-34
    Strike Fighter: Su-30
    Attack aircraft: Su-25SM

    For the next decade I would think things would stay largely as they are with:

    Strategic bomber: Tu-160, Tu-95
    Theatre bomber: Tu-22M3
    Long range strike: Bomber: Su-34 (and reducing numbers of Su-24)
    Fighter/bomber: Su-35 (and Mig-35 if it enters service)
    Attack aircraft: Su-25SM

    Note my changes to your categories are based on the fact that there are strategic and theatre bomber roles and both might include conventional or nuclear payloads.
    Also the Su-30MKI in Indian service is a swing fighter/bomber, but the Su-30 in Russian service is largely an interceptor/airborne command aircraft... sort of a mini AWACS aircraft that uses its superior radar to direct smaller (Mig-29s) or older models (Su-27) on intercept missions so that it can use its superior radar and electronics, while the smaller or older aircraft operate in electronic silence receiving target data from the Su-30 and operating closer to the enemy so they can fire and then withdraw with the Su-30 managing the engagement.

    It means the Su-30 can stand off, and engage lots of targets without using its own missiles, while the less capable aircraft benefit from its radar while remaining silent their closer proximity to the target means they can fire and their missiles will arrive much quicker than if the Su-30 had fired its own missiles. After firing the fighter can turn away and accelerate and climb... a very difficult target for a BVR missile... and apart from launching a missile it has done nothing to give away its position or even its presence.
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    Post  George1 on Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:52 am

    What about additional Tu-160? Will they resume production?
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    Post  TR1 on Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:09 am

    Probably not. An expensive and lengthy project it would be. Not sure if any incomplete airframes are left at this point.
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    Post  GarryB on Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:51 am

    It would be very expensive to restart Tu-160 production.

    It would probably make rather more sense to give the existing Blackjacks and Bears upgrades and improvements to add precision conventional attack capabilities and improve commonality between the aircraft (including the Backfire), and invest in a new multirole aircraft to replace them all.

    Some sort of tailed flying wing perhaps would be ideal with no vertical tail surface.

    A flying wing has minimal RCS by design, and maximises internal volume for lots of fuel and a good payload for a strategic mission, while retaining the option of reduced fuel plus inflight refuelling with a much larger payload for a long endurance theatre bombing mission.

    The horizontal tail structure should enable control at supersonic speed with a rear mounted down force allowing stabilisation through the high drag period of transonic flight.

    A flying wing is good but a supercruising flying wing is better in terms of time to target and problems of interception.

    Even if it doesn't actually supercruise and requires afterburner briefly to accelerate through the speed of sound, as long as it can fly super sonic speeds in dry thrust this will greatly extend cruising range and reduce IR signature.

    It also offers the potential for a viable civilian supersonic transport alternative.
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    Post  George1 on Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:08 pm

    PAK-DA must be produced in large numbers to replace all bombers including Tu-22M3.

    What about a complement less expensive project that could replace Tu-22M3 in conventional role?
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    Post  GarryB on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:59 am

    They talk about the PAK DA as having both theatre and strategic roles, but PAK DA will be START limited, whereas a dedicated theatre bomber like Tu-22M3 would not.

    Remember START not only limits numbers but allows for inspections and limits where the aircraft can be based.

    Some of the shorter range missions of the Tu-22M3 could be performed by the Su-34, but I have a soft spot for the Backfire and would like to see it with new engines and a range of new guided air to ground weapons.
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    Post  TheArmenian on Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:09 pm

    TR1 wrote:Probably not. An expensive and lengthy project it would be. Not sure if any incomplete airframes are left at this point.

    AFAIK there are still 2 unfinished airframes left in the Gorbunov plant in Kazan. Don't know if there are plans to finish them.
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    Post  George1 on Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:27 pm

    TheArmenian wrote:
    TR1 wrote:Probably not. An expensive and lengthy project it would be. Not sure if any incomplete airframes are left at this point.

    AFAIK there are still 2 unfinished airframes left in the Gorbunov plant in Kazan. Don't know if there are plans to finish them.

    I think these 2 are for maintenance/modernization there. I see 12 in engels base and these 2 in kazan facilities from google earth
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    Post  TheArmenian on Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:07 pm

    You will not find the 2 unfinished ones I am talking about on google.earth. They are only partly assembled and should still be inside the buildings.
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    Post  SOC on Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:14 pm

    TheArmenian wrote:You will not find the 2 unfinished ones I am talking about on google.earth. They are only partly assembled and should still be inside the buildings.

    Were there three unfinished airframes then? I thought one of the unfinished ones had already been completed and delivered?
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    Post  TheArmenian on Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:30 pm

    SOC wrote:
    TheArmenian wrote:You will not find the 2 unfinished ones I am talking about on google.earth. They are only partly assembled and should still be inside the buildings.

    Were there three unfinished airframes then? I thought one of the unfinished ones had already been completed and delivered?

    Exactly.
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    Post  George1 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:31 pm

    http://en.rian.ru/mlitary_news/20120207/171200584.html

    The Russian Air Force will receive more than 10 modernized Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers by 2020, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
    According to official data, Russia has at least 16 Tu-160 aircraft in service. There are plans to increase their number to 30.
    “The Tu-160 in service with the Air Force are already undergoing modernization,” Air Force spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said. “We are planning to receive more than 10 aircraft of this type.”
    The Tu-160 is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber, designed to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theaters of operation.
    The modernized version, Tu-160M, features new weaponry, improved electronics and avionics, which double its combat effectivness.
    The upgraded aircraft will remain in service until a fifth-generation strategic bomber is developed, the Air Force officials earlier said.
    Russia will also modernize about 30 Tu-22M3 Backfire-C strategic bombers to a Tu-22M3M variant by 2020.



    Will Russia resume the Tu-160 production at last?

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    Post  TR1 on Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:44 pm

    Those plans are probably going to stay "plans".
    The idea has been floated around for years, and no work indicating this has actually been done.
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    Post  GarryB on Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:27 am

    I am skeptical too.

    If they can't afford to upgrade more than 10 Tu-160s in the next 8 years, then how can they afford to build from scratch 10 new aircraft, which had many important components built in the Ukraine in factories now likely bankrupt and collapsing?

    I would think it would be more efficient to use that money to upgrade all their Tu-160s... though perhaps this announcement means they already have 6 upgraded Tu-160s and are upgrading all the rest by 2020.
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    Post  Russian Patriot on Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:33 am

    Russia to Upgrade Over 10 Tu-160 Bombers by 2020

    RIA Novosti

    19:42 07/02/2012 MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Air Force will receive more than 10 modernized Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers by 2020, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

    According to official data, Russia has at least 16 Tu-160 aircraft in service. There are plans to increase their number to 30.

    “The Tu-160 in service with the Air Force are already undergoing modernization,” Air Force spokesman Col. Vladimir Drik said. “We are planning to receive more than 10 aircraft of this type.”

    The Tu-160 is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber, designed to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theaters of operation.

    The modernized version, Tu-160M, features new weaponry, improved electronics and avionics, which double its combat effectivness.

    The upgraded aircraft will remain in service until a fifth-generation strategic bomber is developed, the Air Force officials earlier said.

    Russia will also modernize about 30 Tu-22M3 Backfire-C strategic bombers to a Tu-22M3M variant by 2020.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/russia/2012/russia-120207-rianovosti03.htm
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    Post  GarryB on Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:46 am

    I think they might be confusing upgrades with new aircraft... they certainly had plans for 30 as that would be a more useful number of aircraft, but the cost of restarting production... just to make a dozen more aircraft would be incredibly expensive.

    I would think they have probably already upgraded 6 Blackjacks and the ten they talk about upgrading by 2020 will be the remaining 10 un-upgraded aircraft. At just over one upgrade per year they should be able to manage getting the whole fleet with the same upgrade by 2020. The original aircraft often introduced new features as they became available so each aircraft was different. This upgrade will make them the same.

    I would suspect that by 2018-2020 they will have a flying prototype of the PAK DA and then they will be able to start testing various things like conformal radar arrays built into the aircrafts skin, and of course new generation engines in the Blackjack both to test and to improve the performance of the existing platforms.

    By about 2024 or so they can start making PAK DAs to replace the Blackjacks and Bears.

    I rather suspect a smaller non strategic model might be worth developing for the threatre bombing role and interceptor role to replace both the Tu-22M3M and the Mig-31BM.

    A separate model would be needed so they don't count towards START treaty assets.
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    Post  George1 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:29 pm

    Tu-160 with Kh-55SM

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    Post  Firebird on Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:15 pm

    I was in Britain today. Overhead I heard a huge noise, reminiscent of Concorde. It sounded too deep to be a fighter jet and nothing like an airliner. When it came out of the clouds, I saw something probably 1mile up, going very fast, then turning sharply in an arc. It looked gigantic, with swept back wings,and bright white bodywork and engine trails coming from the position of the Tu-160. My suspicion is that it was just too big to be the US B1 or Russia's Tu-22.

    Is this possible? I assumed that the Tu-160 doesn't fly into Britain, except maybe for big airshows.
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    Post  SOC on Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:00 pm

    Where were you in England? Just a general area would do.
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    Post  Sujoy on Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:26 pm

    I do not visit UK on a regular basis but from the visits that I have made to the UK and based on the discussions that I have had out there , there is a slim possibility that one can spot a Russian bomber in the distant horizon from the county of Yorkshire or from Scotland . That said, they generally fly far from the UK coast .


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    Post  Firebird on Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:17 pm

    SOC wrote:Where were you in England? Just a general area would do.

    It went across South Wales East to West, then turned South across to the Bristol area.
    Everything about it suggested White Swan to me. Maybe there was some sort of airforces "cultural exchange" trip on today? (Or Britain's radar staff were all on holiday.. lol)

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