Defence Minister calls for new Tu-160 supersonic bomber production programme

The Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic long-range bomber

Tu-160: Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu yesterday called for the production of Russia’s long-range supersonic Tu-160 bomber to be put back on the agenda. Code-named “Blackjack” by NATO, the Tu-160 is capable of speeds of up to 2,220km per hour and of dropping free-falling nuclear bombs and cruise missiles tipped with conventional or nuclear warheads within a range of 7,300km. “It is now essential that we apply ourselves to solving not only the issue of servicing and modernizing our long-range aircraft, but the revival of production of the Tu-160 rocket carrier,” he said during a visit to the Kazan Aviation Plant in Tatarstan.
Shoigu’s call to bring the plane – which he described as “unique and decades ahead of its time” –  back into active service  coincides with an increase in Russian military spending and a stepping up of patrols close to European airspace amid tensions over the crisis in Ukraine.