Russia’s two strategic Tu-160 bombers have successfully completed a record 23-hour flight. Vladimir Drik, an official spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, stated June 10 that the flight continued for 23 hours. The planes covered the distance of nearly 18,000 kilometers, RIA Novosti reports.
It was a second task during the time when long-distance flights were performed on Tu-160 bomber planes. Last year, the longest flight performed by Tu-160 bomber continued for nearly 21 hours.
The planes took off from the air base in the town of Engels, in Russia’s Saratov region. The pilots of the planes conducted two air refueling operations with the help of Il-78 tanker aircraft. The command picked best crews of Long-Distance Aviation of Russia’s Air Force for the mission.
Two Tu-160 bombers flew along the state border of the Russian Federation across the neutral waters of the Arctic and Pacific oceans. The planes landed safely on June 10 at the air base in Engels.
The Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO reporting name: Blackjack) is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber designed by the Soviet Union. It is similar in appearance to the American B-1 Lancer but is an entirely different class of aircraft, being a standoff missile platform. The Tu-160 is also significantly larger and faster than the B-1B and has a greater combat range. It is also the largest variable-sweep combat aircraft ever built.
Although several civil and military transport aircraft are bigger, the Tu-160 has the greatest total thrust, and the heaviest takeoff weight of any combat aircraft, and the highest top speed as well as one of the largest payloads of any current heavy bomber. Pilots of the Tu-160 call it the “White Swan”, due to its maneuverability and anti-flash white finish.
Entering service in 1987 with the 184 Guards Bomber Regiment, based at Priluki, Soviet Union, the Tu-160 was the last strategic bomber designed by the Soviet Union. The aircraft remains in limited production, with at least 16 currently in service with the Russian Air Force.
Russia plans to modernize the bombers so that they could carry air bombs in addition to cruise missiles and use communication through space satellites. One plane can carry up to 40 tons of weapons including several types of guided missiles, air bombs and other nuclear and conventional attack weapons.