Currently being developed by Tupolev with the creation priority given to reducing the visibility of the aircraft and the usage of long-range weapons, Russia’s Ministry of Defence has approved the final appearance of the stealth bomber, known as the Advanced Long-range Aviation Complex (PAK DA in Russian codification).
In an interview with Interfax, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dennis Manturov said “The aggregate assembly of prototypes is underway at the production site…” Russian media has reported that special models and individual full-size elements of the bomber were already created and passed a series of bench tests to assess radar visibility and will have a greater weapons capacity than the supersonic ‘Blackjack’.
Considered as a flying wing, the aircraft should have its inaugural flight between 2025 and 2026, with entry into service currently planned before 2030. The requirement on Tupolev is to deliver the aircraft capable of subsonic speeds of up to 1,190 km/h; 740 mph) which is significantly less than the current Tu-160 strategic bomber that it will replace.
In an extensive interview with Russia Beyond, Vadim Kozulin, a professor at the Academy of Military Science said that “The onboard equipment of the aircraft is automated as much as possible. Engineers now experiment on using it in unmanned mode. It is also assumed that the bomber will be able to control groups of unmanned aerial vehicles and will be able to use the entire range of air – to-air missiles.”
He continued, “… Russia’s air force has received the powerful X-555 and X-101 long-range missiles that can fly 5,000 km (3,106 miles), which is why there is no more need for long-distance bombers. Now the strategic bomber can carry out its mission basically without leaving Russian borders and remaining under the protection of air defense systems.”