Russia’s Aerospace Forces are undergoing a major overhaul, looking forward to welcome a 5th generation subsonic bomber into its fleet as well as a long-range bomber drone, to be developed in the next 20 years, the military said.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces (VKS), which marked their 105th birthday on Monday, have been making rapid strides in an effort to upgrade the fleet of long-range bombers and develop new advanced aircraft, Lieutenant-General Sergey Kobylash, chief of Russia’s Long-Range Aviation told Russian Moskovsky Komsomolets daily on Sunday.
“Our aircraft and their weapons are subject to constant improvement. Further development of the long-range aviation is being carried out not only by upgrading Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers to extend their service life, but also by developing the Prospective Aviation Complex for Long-range Aviation – a 5th-gen strategic bomber,” Kobylash said.
The new bomber will be subsonic, the general said, noting that the aircraft will be capable of “performing all tasks the long-range aviation is facing.” The brainchild of the aircraft manufacturer Tupolev, the project, dubbed PAK-DA, has been in the works since 2009. The bomber will use stealth technology and can be armed with hypersonic air-to-surface missiles. The aircraft is expected to have a range of 12.500km and be capable of carrying a payload of up to 30 tons. The plane is set to make its first flight in 2025 and enter service in the late 2020s.
The Russian military, however, does not plan to stop at that and is seeking to develop an unmanned 6th generation bomber by 2040, Kobylash said, without providing any further details.
In the recent years, the Russian military has been working to replace the current fleet of Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22M3, which are legacy of the Soviet era, with cutting-edge aircraft, so Russia can thwart any enemy attack amid the ongoing military build-up of the US-led NATO at its doorstep.