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Russia to design a new strategic bomber
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Jul 17, 2013

Tu-160 bomber. Photo: RIA Novosti.

Russia will start designing a new strategic bomber in 2014, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Army, Valery Gerasimov, said. Here are more details about the project by expert at Centre for Strategic Technology Analysis, Vasily Kashin, who compares this with the similar Chinese and American projects.

The new Prospective Air Complex for Long Range Aviation (PAK DA) will replace the Tu-95MS and Tu-160 bombers that Russia is using now. The Tupolev Designing Bureau will develop the new bomber. It will deliver its plan for the development of the aircraft and the estimation of the cost of this work to the Defence Ministry.

Reportedly, the serial production of the bomber is expected to start in 2020. However, some other reports say that the aircraft will make its maiden flight in 2020. Concerning its engines, their development was started in 2011. It's quite possible that the aircraft will be equipped with the updated models of the 117S or NK-32 advanced engines. The weapon systems are also being developed.

It has been suggested that the bomber will carry X-101 cruise missiles that can hit a target at a distance of 5,500 kilometers. Moreover it may carry short-range missiles and glide bombs.

At present, according to the approved project, the future bomber will be built under the "flying-wing" scheme similar to the American B-2 Spirit. At present, this is the only stealth strategic bomber that has been developed to a level for launching serial production. The price of a bomber with the necessary equipment and spare parts was estimated at over $900 million in the 1990s, while the overall cost of the development and the production of all aircraft was about $45 billion.

Most likely, similar to the American B-2, the Russian bomber will fly at a high subsonic speed. Basic attention will be focused on its long-range and stealth technology. In this case, the Russian bomber will differ from the future Chinese strategic bomber, which judging by mock-up models, will be a supersonic aircraft.

At the same time, analysts insist that the Chinese project will cost huge sums and experience technical difficulties when taking into account, that unlike the U.S. and Russia, China has no experience at all in this area. Practically, if China wants to implement the programme up to serial production, it will have to spend huge sums comparable to that of the entire manned-space programme.

In fact, the Russian project is not starting from scratch. The Tupolev Design Bureau worked on the Tu-202 project in the 1970s and 1980s. It planned to develop this aircraft in two versions, strategic bomber and long-range anti-submarine aircraft.

The aircraft was planned to be built according to the "flying wing" design. Its total range was 16,000 kilometers, while the range of the bomber carrying 6 cruise missiles was 5,500 kilometers. In the 1980s, a large number of aerodynamic experiments were carried out using models of the aircraft.

New strategic bomber projects are always linked with huge technical risks. Nevertheless, the development of the PAK DA will provide Russia an effective system capable of hitting targets at any points on the Earth, within several hours of receiving the order, without need for foreign bases.

Source: Voice of Russia


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