Russia’s strategic bomber, the Tupolev Tu-160, is to be rejuvenated. After a 24-year break, production of a modernised version of the Tu-160 is due to begin. From 2023, Moscow wants to acquire 50 units. At present that is all we know. This is almost a return to its origins because the Tu-160’s history dates back to the Cold War. Developed during the 70’s, the Russian bomber entered service in 1987, with 36 units being built up to 1992.
Since it resembled the bird, and its colour, the Russians nicknamed it the "White Swan" (NATO’s code name is "Blackjack"). The Tu-160 is the world’s biggest supersonic bomber, capable of attaining 1,100 mph (1,800 km/h). Its main visible features, are the variable geometry wings that allow it to optimise its flight performance, giving it a wingspan of between 115 feet and 180 feet (35 m - 55 m).
For performing long missions, up to 7,400 miles (12,000 km) range without refuelling, the Tu-160’s four onboard occupants are provided with a galley and sleeping quarters. Finally, the bomber, has two ventral bomb bays able to accommodate 88,000 lbs (40 metric tons) of weaponry, such as 12 long-range cruise missiles.
At present, sixteen Tu-160’s are still in service with the Russian air force.