“White Swan”TU-160 a Russian intercontinental hypersonic strategic bomber

Russia has been working for a long time to advance its army and modernize its military capabilities in line with technological developments and global arms race‭. ‬Therefore‭, ‬today we find it ranked second in the world among the list of the most powerful armies in the world‭, ‬according to the classification of the latest report of‭ “‬Global Fire Power‭”, ‬as it spends billions of dollars‭ ‬annually on its military sector‭, ‬until it has ranked fourth in the world in this regard‭, ‬according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute‭ (‬SIPRI‭) ‬report 2021‭. ‬Due to Russia’s great interest and its relentless pursuit of building a military‭ ‬force comparable in its capabilities to the most powerful armies in the world‭, ‬Moscow today has huge and advanced military fleets in the defense fields of land‭, ‬sea and air‭, ‬and there are now plenty of reports about its modern military industries and the‭ ‬huge development processes that affect its military sector‭.‬

Modernization and development‭ ‬

During the past decade‭, ‬Moscow has carried out numerous and massive modernization and development of its most important strategic weapons‭, ‬as these upgrades covered various military fields‭, ‬perhaps the most prominent of which was the modernization process‭,‬‭ ‬which affected about 60‭ ‬percent of the famous TU-160‭ ‬strategic bomber systems‭, ‬nicknamed‭ “‬the White Swan‭.” ‬as it has had a wide‭ ‬response in military circles around the world during the past few years‭.‬

Power Projection on Victory Day

In a majestic display of military strength‭, ‬the Russian Air Force‭, ‬which possesses large numbers of warplanes‭, ‬flew the giant plane in the sky of the Red Square in the capital‭, ‬Moscow‭, ‬last May‭, ‬in conjunction with the Russian Bear’s celebrations of the 76th victory‭, ‬which falls on May 9‭ ‬of each year‭.‬

A long history and a bright future

The legendary‭ “‬Tu-160‭” ‬or‭ “‬White Swan‭” ‬plane is a multi-wing hypersonic ICSB missile carrier and bomber‭, ‬designed during the Soviet Union‭, ‬in the Cold War era by the prominent Russian aircraft designer‭, ‬Andrei Tupolev‭, ‬which was famous for designing civil‭ ‬and military aircraft‭.‬

In 1987‭, ‬the Russian bomber entered service with the Soviet Air Force to carry out the tasks assigned to it at any point on the‭ ‬planet‭, ‬and it is still under production and modernization‭, ‬albeit to a limited extent‭. ‬There are also at least 16‭ ‬of these bombers in the service of the Russian Air Force‭, ‬which considers them an integral part of the country’s nuclear shield‭.‬

During its years of operation‭, ‬the Russian bomber succeeded in carrying out many military maneuvers and sorties with fighter jets in many countries of the world‭. ‬It also participated in precise military operations and bombed and destroyed many targets of the terrorist organization‭ “‬ISIS‭” ‬in Syria with conventional ammunition‭.‬

Moscow spares no effort whenever it allows the opportunity to display its forces and show off its military products‭. ‬We find that it regularly participates in the most important aerospace exhibitions‭, ‬and has exhibited in many of these events the giant strategic bomber‭.‬

The Russian Ministry of Defense has been working for years to develop and modernize Tu-160‭ ‬bombers after their production stopped for a period of time‭, ‬as it seeks to double its fleet of these aircraft and increase their efficiency by a large percentage‭, ‬within the framework of the long-term Russian government armament program‭. ‬Modernization aims to extend the service life of the bomber for a period of between 45‭ ‬and 50‭ ‬years‭, ‬due to its great importance in the Russian Air Force‭.‬

Before modernization operations‭, ‬many reports indicated that the only thing that this bomber was missing was the technology of‭ “‬Stealth aircraft‭”, ‬as fighters escorted it to protect it in the lower layers of the atmosphere‭, ‬so the modernization operations‭ ‬included coating the plane with special materials that make it invisible by radars‭.‬

The Russian strategic bomber broke dozens of records indicative of its robust performance and durability‭.‬


Given its distinctive white color that reflects part of the thermal radiation of nuclear explosions‭, ‬its slim exterior‭, ‬and its‭ ‬supernatural power‭, ‬the military and aviation experts nicknamed Tu-160‭ ‬“the White Swan”‭, ‬due to the consistency of its dimensions and its‭ ‬“aerodynamic”‭ ‬performance‭, ‬in what NATO calls it‭ ‬“Black Jack‭”, ‬and the upgraded version of this bomber was named‭ “‬TU 160M‭,” ‬which passed many modernization tests‭.‬

Specifications and features

The Tu-160‭ ‬is a multi‭- ‬curvature wing aircraft‭, ‬where the bomber commander can choose the degree of wing curvature according to‭ ‬the mission and flight speed‭.‬

The length of the strategic bomber is about 54‭ ‬meters‭, ‬and the wingspan‭, ‬which is related to the overall design of the aircraft‭,‬‭ ‬exceeds 55.7‭ ‬meters‭.‬

The‭ “‬White Swan‭” ‬is considered at present among the best long-range strategic bombers‭, ‬due to its high radar capabilities‭, ‬its ability to fly long distances of more than 8000‭ ‬km‭, ‬and it can travel 14‭ ‬thousand kilometers without refueling‭.‬

Among the most important features of the plane is that it can be refueled at any time during flight‭, ‬and it is also coated with‭ ‬a special paint that resists the intense heat resulting from the explosions‭.‬

The maximum flight speed of this plane reaches 2,200‭ ‬km per hour‭, ‬while the maximum altitude exceeds 16,000‭ ‬meters‭, ‬which means‭ ‬that it is able to fly even in the upper layers of the atmosphere‭.‬

The‭ “‬White Swan‭” ‬is the largest hypersonic plane in the world in size and weight‭, ‬and the largest in terms of thrust‭. ‬It is also‭ ‬able to carry a record weight of ammunition and armament with nuclear and conventional bombs‭, ‬and it can carry tens of tons of‭ ‬ammunition to anywhere in the world‭, ‬making it a means effective to restrain any potential enemy‭, ‬so it is the heaviest in terms‭ ‬of take-off weight among combat aircraft‭, ‬as its take-off weight reaches 275‭ ‬tons‭.‬

After a complete modernization‭, ‬the advanced version of the Russian strategic bomber got new capabilities‭, ‬which allowed it to acquire completely new electronic navigation equipment against neutrons and nuclear radiation‭, ‬new control systems and radars‭, ‬advanced systems for electronic warfare and dealing with electronic jamming‭, ‬as well as providing it with engines that significantly increase its combat effectiveness‭.‬


The strategic bomber is powered by 4‭ ‬Russian NK-32‭ ‬turbojet engines of the second generation‭, ‬increasing its maximum flight range by more than a thousand kilometers‭.‬

Armament systems

The upgraded bomber is capable of carrying 12‭ ‬missiles equipped with a nuclear warhead‭, ‬bringing a total of about 40‭ ‬tons of various munitions and winged missiles with nuclear warheads‭ (‬Kh-55‭), ‬and even new long-range missiles‭ (‬Kh-101‭), ‬which can hit their‭ ‬targets at distances more than three thousand km‭, ‬and thus these aircraft will be able to hit the target without entering the range of anti-aircraft missiles‭. ‬Reports indicate that this bomber can be armed with hypersonic missiles‭, ‬and various types of guided and cluster bombs‭. ‬

BY‭: ‬Ikram Bendalla
‭(‬Military Affairs Researcher‭)‬

Sources and references



http‭://‬www.tupolev.ru/en‭/ ‬

https‭://‬arabic.rt.com/tags/TY_160‭/ ‬


https‭://‬www.flightglobal.com/defence/tu-160m-takes-flight-with-updated-engines/140977‭.‬article‭ ‬


https‭://‬www.airforce-technology.com/projects/tu-160-blackjack‭ ‬


https‭://‬fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/bomber/tu-160‭.‬htm‭ ‬



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