Russia's Tu-160M2 and Tu-22M3M bombers to get Su-57 fighter tech | Eurasia Diary -

20 September,

Russia's Tu-160M2 and Tu-22M3M bombers to get Su-57 fighter tech

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While the Russian Aerospace Force’s Tu-160 bomber has been flying since the days when President Ronald Reagan occupied the White House and the Berlin Wall was still an imposing barrier, the Cold War-era bomber is getting new modern upgrades. The same improvements will be provided to the Tu-22M3M strategic missile-carrying bomber, which is an upgraded version of the even older airframes dating back to the 1970s.

The aircraft will soon receive new communications systems based on the platform for the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter. This addition of twenty-first-century tech into the aging bombers could keep the Tu-22M3Ms flying for decades to come—much like the American B-52 Stratofortress thanks to its upgrades over the years.

“The system has been developed using the communications platform created for the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter. As its main advantages, it is characterized by high reliability, speedy information transmission, a small weight and energy efficiency,” the press office of the Ruselectronics Group, which is part of the state hi-tech corporation Rostec, told Tass on Wednesday. “The technical solutions laid out in creating the system help promptly build up its technical functionality by upgrading the software.” 

This latest communications suite is currently being developed by specialists of the Polyot Research and Production Company within Ruselectronics Group. 

“The system is undergoing the stage of flight tests and is showing high operational characteristics,” the press office added.

New And Improved Old Airframes 

The Tu-160 was developed during the closing stages of the Cold War, and it made its first flight in December 1981 while production ramped up in 1994. A total of thirty-six of the Tu-160 bombers were produced before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and currently, Russia has sixteen in its fleet and those have been steadily updated to the M standard.  

In 2015, Moscow announced plans to build at least fifty new Tu-160M2 bombers, which share little with the Soviet version apart from a common airframe design. The new aircraft will have new avionics and even a modernized version of the Kuznetsov NK-31 afterburner. It will now have the same communications systems being used in the Su-57 fighter.

The first of the four new Tu-160M2 strategic bombers will be built by 2023.

Improving the Tu-22M 

The Cold War-era Tu-22M3 bombers are already undergoing numerous upgrades, as the Tupolev Aircraft Company is simultaneously upgrading Tu-22M3 bombers to the Tu-22M3M level with considerably improved combat capabilities. This has included adding new hypersonic missile capability, which was tested in May.

In addition, a second prototype of the Tu-22M3M supersonic bomber underwent trials at hypersonic speeds during a fourth test flight earlier this year. It boasts 80 percent new avionics over the original Tu-22M. In addition, the upgrade provides new electronic equipment including navigation, communication, sights, engine controls, fuel mechanisms and electronic warfare. These upgrades should increase navigation precision, provide simplified maintenance and preflight preparation. 

The Tu-22M3M, along with its M3 predecessor and MiG-31k, is among just a handful of currently operational Russian aircraft that is confirmed to be compatible with the nuclear-capable, Mach 10 speed Kh-47 “Kinzhal” missile that Russian president Vladimir Putin unveiled during his 2018 address to the federal assembly. 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on 

The article was originally published in The National Interest.

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