A newly built Tupolev Tu-160 long-range heavy strategic bomber was rolled out of the hangar as Russia resumes production of the world’s largest operational bomber that NATO designates as Blackjack.

The new Tu-160, which is nicknamed White Swan in Russia, was revealed at the Kazan Aviation Factory, a branch of Moscow-based Tupolev Design Bureau.

The serial production of Tu-160s, which remained stalled since 1992, will resume after the aircraft proves that it matches the assigned criteria, Major-General Sergey Kobylash, the chief of Russia’s Long-Range Aviation.

Russia’s military announced the decision to resume production of the Tu-160s in modernized Tu-160M2 variation back in 2015. The serial production of the bombers is likely to begin in early 2020s, with the Defense Ministry planning to purchase at least 50 aircraft.

Blackjack is largest combat aircraft in the world, with maximum takeoff weight of about 275 tons. It can cover a distance of more than 12,000 km without refueling. The record distance it covered during one flight was 18,000 km, spending more than 24 hours in the air.

The bomber is equipped with variable-sweep wings, which it wedges against the fuselage when switching to supersonic speed.

The Tu-160 and other long-range aircraft resumed patrol flights over the Pacific and Atlantic in 2007. The bombers also proved their effectiveness during Russia’s air campaign in Syria as they took off from airfields in Russia to strike terrorist targets.

RT.com / ABC Flash Point Military News 2018.

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