Flights Russian Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela are purely a marketing gimmick and PR, have little military value, Strategy Page writes on November 5.
But a small park Tu-160 RF assigns some really unique abilities. In 2010, two bombers performed 23-hour flight, breaking the 18 thousand kilometers, during which two were made from air refueling tanker Il-78. In the last couple of years the role of the far plane was a spy, but the main purpose is to deliver to the objectives guided bombs and missiles.
In 2008, the Russian Air Force aircraft far received the first new aircraft since the early 1990s. Creation was revived in 2008. The plan was that every 18 months to produce one bomber and increase their number from 16 to 30, but then this programm was canceled in favor of modernization. BBC want to get a year less than 5 new NK-32 engines weighing 3.5 tonnes, although the manufacturer insisted on supplying 20 engines to reduce the cost of manufacture, in the unlikely event the cost of these engines can be immensely superior. But the government decided to pay more money for engines and to upgrade 10 aircraft from 16, the armament, a reference to the Tu-160M in anticipation of the start of production of the latest generation of bombers. In any case, in the 2020s the Russian Air Force will be armed with a certain amount of Tu-160.
Tu-160 is very similar to the South American B-1, although at its combat potential inferior to him. Yet, it is the most modern Russian bomber. 267-ton aircraft can carry a combat load weight of 40 tons at a distance of 12,000 km. First aircraft was put into service in 1987 as a carrier cruise missiles.
The success of the B-1 in Afghanistan and Iraq as a carrier guided bombs feat Russia to modernize its Tu-160. Modernization of the 1st aircraft reclaims 18 months, the price of upgrading one machine $ 35 million Tu-160M will have more reliable engines, some stealth capabilities through the introduction of radar absorbing materials, improved electronics that will allow use almost any type of aircraft missiles. All 10 aircraft will be upgraded before the end of this year.
Total built 35 aircraft of this type, most of it was taken out of service or put on the scrap. Mass production was discontinued in 1994. Apparently, the first of the «new» Tu-160 was the completion of the aircraft, the assembly of which has not been completed in the 1990s. In 1991, were closed many military factories, because Russian Alliance was in literally zero. The defense budget has been cut by two-thirds, the most affected creating weapons. Remained afloat only those companies which produce military products for export. But many defense factories currently being revived for the production of military equipment. Most of them are experiencing shortage in engineering and highly skilled labor force, because the best employees work on more profitable commercial firms.