Information about the start of flight tests of the first Tu-160M new construction appeared on January 24. According to TASS, the new machine with the serial number 08-04 performed its first flight the week before last (January 15-21). The unnamed source indicated that the necessary checks of the aircraft would be completed within a few months, and by the end of this year the car would be handed over to the customer in the face of aerospace forces. Official confirmation of similar news, however, did not arrive.
Last Thursday, January 25, at the Kazan Aviation Plant. S.P. Gorbunova, involved in the construction of the Tu-160 aircraft, with the official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The head of state was shown the process of building new and updating existing machines. In addition, in connection with the visit of the country's leadership, the next test flight became a demonstration flight. The Tu-160M aircraft named “Pyotr Deinekin” was shown to the president in the air. During his visit to the plant, V. Putin and high-ranking leaders of the Ministry of Defense signed a new agreement, and also made a number of statements disclosing current plans to upgrade long-range aviation.
Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov and President of the United Aircraft Building Corporation Yury Slyusar signed a contract for the construction of the first batch of production Tu-160M new construction. Reportedly, each of the ten aircraft ordered will build more than 15 billion rubles. The production of this batch allocated 160 billion. The construction of the ordered machines will continue over the next few years. According to V. Putin, the new contract will ensure a full load of the Kazan aircraft factory before 2027.
According to reports, the new aircraft with the number 08-04, already undergoing flight tests, will be transferred to the armed forces before the end of this year. The first of the new Tu-160M, envisaged by the contract of 25 in January, is planned to transfer to the customer in 2023 year. After that, the cars will regularly leave the assembly shop and, after the necessary checks, go to the duty station.
Over the past few years, high-ranking representatives of the Ministry of Defense have repeatedly raised the issue of the volume of new production of long-range bombers. According to these statements, before 2035, aerospace forces will need to get 50 new Tu-160М2. The possibility of executing such plans within the specified time frame has become expectedly the subject of separate disputes and discussions, but the military department has not yet talked about changing its intentions.
It is known that the industry will have to hand over fifty new aircraft from 2023 to 2035 years. It is easy to calculate what pace of work is needed to implement such plans. Beginning with 2023, industry will have to transfer at least three production aircraft to the military department every year. Moreover, after each delivery of a new car, a comparable number of bombers must remain on the stocks at different stages of construction. This will allow to realize the existing plans, at least, without a serious delay in the schedule.
President V. Putin noted that the new contract for production aircraft will allow the Kazan aircraft company to be fully loaded for the next nine years. This statement can be considered a transparent allusion to the expected timing of the new contract. Thus, the process of putting the first ten cars can take about four years. How such rates of production will correlate with the need to assemble and deliver new batches of equipment has not yet been specified.
At the moment, it can be assumed that the called dates for the transfer of the 50 aircraft in the form of the mid-thirties will not be sustained, and they will have to be moved to the right. For all its benefits to the military, the current program for building new bombers is extremely complex and expensive. As a result, its implementation will take a lot of time, up to several decades.
Of great interest is the financial side of the new program. Earlier it was reported that research and development work, as well as updating the production capacity of the Kazan aircraft factory, necessary to start the construction of new-modified aircraft, will cost about 37 billion rubles. The first ten aircraft out of five required will cost the army 160 billion. If current prices are maintained, the total cost of fifty aircraft can reach 800 billion rubles. A possible increase in costs can significantly increase this number.
Since the decision to resume construction of the Tu-160 and to the present, only one aircraft has been assembled. It should be noted that recent work differs from the following by some simplicity. From the beginning of the nineties, when the further serial construction of the first modified bombers was canceled, four unfinished machines remained at the Kazan Aviation Plant. One of them was completed in 2016-17 and now, having received its own name "Peter Deynekin", has been put to the test.
Using the existing groundwork will allow Kazan aircraft manufacturers to build three more missile carriers relatively quickly and easily, but this will not give all the desired results. According to the results of completion of the three reserves, a new order for 10 machines will be fulfilled only by a third. Thus, from a certain time, the Kazan Aviation Plant will have to launch a full-fledged new production of aircraft with the manufacture of all the necessary units from scratch.
According to the United Aircraft Corporation, the plant has already completed most of the preparatory work. In particular, key construction technologies were restored. Last year, the line of electron beam welding of titanium aggregates of the aircraft's central beam was launched again. A large transverse beam with a mass of the order of 6 t is one of the main elements of the Tu-160 power set and actually assembles the fuselage, center section and movable cantilevers into a single structure. In the manufacture of such a beam, it is necessary to make a large number of welds with a total length of 140 m. The available technologies allow welding at high speeds - up to 36 m / h.
Another important innovation is the updated approach to the creation of design documentation. The updated draft strategic bomber is created in digital form. At the same time, the leading aviation design bureaus of the country were involved in its creation - together with the Tupolev design bureau, which created the initial project, the firms Beriev, Ilyushin, Sukhoi and Yakovlev worked on the updated machine. With the help of secure communication channels, a network was created, designated as a “distributed design office”. The use of such an approach to design has reduced costs and accelerated the implementation of the necessary work.
However, the necessary design work has not yet been completed. A TASS source in the middle of last week reported that the fully digitized documentation on the updated aircraft was not yet ready. It is planned to be completed no earlier than the middle of this year. Only after this new documents can be used in the construction of mass aircraft of the updated version.
According to known data, now we are talking about the construction of new aircraft in the configuration of the Tu-160M. Machines of this configuration are already being used in long-range aviation, but they were originally the Tu-160 of the base modification, which was subsequently repaired and modernized. Now the aircraft of the updated version will be built using the groundwork or from scratch.
The project with the letter "M" provides for the replacement of flight-navigation equipment and airborne communications. Also proposed the installation of a new radar station and modern means of electronic warfare. Equipment control weapons provides the possibility of using modern missiles. The design of the airframe while not undergoing major changes. The type of power plant also does not change.
New serial bombers will relate to a promising modification of the Tu-160М2. This project again implies a serious upgrade of electronic equipment with the installation of modern systems and facilities. It is alleged that the aircraft version "M2" will have combat effectiveness, 60% higher than the corresponding indicators of a simple Tu-160.
The program to resume the construction of strategic missile carriers Tu-160 is of great importance for the development of long-range aviation of aerospace forces. Until 1992, when construction stopped, the industry of more than three dozen aircraft of this type, including prototypes. Subsequently, managed to finish building two more cars. Due to the well-known events of the nineties, about half of the machines built have survived to our time. The 16 serial bombers are currently serving at Engels Air Base. In terms of their numbers, the existing Tu-160 are noticeably inferior to the long-range Tu-95MS and Tu-22М3 bombers, which account for dozens.
With the successful implementation of the existing plans for the construction of fifty new bombers, the total number of Tu-160 will exceed 50-60 units. At the same time, all or almost all such machines will belong to the new versions of the “M” or “М2”. The gradual write-off of aircraft that have developed their resources at some point will make the new Tu-160М2 the most numerous representatives of Russian long-range aviation.
The mass production of the Tu-160М2 in the distant future will allow the decommissioning of morally and physically obsolete Tu-95MS aircraft to start. At about the same time, troops will be able to get new long-range bombers being developed as part of the Advanced Aviation Complex of the Long-Range Aviation (PAK DA) program. Until a certain time, the share of the PAK DA in long-range aviation will not be too large. Due to this, as well as due to the gradual abandonment of turboprop Tu-95MS, an increase in the relative quantity of Tu-160М2 should be observed. Thus, such a technique will not only allow updating the fleet of bombers, but also “close” a specific period of rearmament.
The last of the Tu-50М160 bombers planned for the 2 order will arrive in the army at least in the mid-thirties. At the same time, a noticeable shift in terms is possible due to the complexity and high cost of the project. Anyway, the construction of fifty new missile carriers will ensure the correct operation of long-range aviation of the VCS over the next few decades. Some of the Tu-160 available in the troops were built in the late eighties, but after a number of repairs and upgrades they are able to continue their service. Given the life of these machines, you can imagine how many bombers can serve, which are to be commissioned in the mid-thirties.
The main objective of the project Tu-160М2 is to update the long-range aviation of the armed forces. However, in the future, this machine may contribute to the development of other areas. Thus, during the January 25 events, V. Putin proposed to consider the issue of creating a civilian modification of a supersonic bomber. The head of the United Aircraft Building Corporation Y. Slusar noted that the industry already has some groundwork on this topic.
Several years of work aimed at the resumption of serial production of strategic missile carriers, lead to real results. In the late autumn of last year, the first Tu-160, built on the basis of the available reserve, was transferred to the test station, and began flight tests a couple of weeks ago. A few days ago came the first contract for the construction of serial machines of this type. Production of fifty desired bomber will take a lot of time, but already the first steps have been taken, approximating the desired result.
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