Could This Be Russia’s New Stealth Bomber?
Blurry image could depict scale test model
Russian publication Business Online posted this picture earlier this year of what looks to be a wind-tunnel model of Russia’s planned new stealth bomber.
According to state-run Ria Novosti, the design for the PAK-DA strategic bomber was approved in April. “The development of the aircraft is going as planned,” Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev told the media outlet in April. “The outline of its design and characteristics has been approved and all relevant documents have been signed allowing the industry to start the development of systems for this plane.”
The aircraft, which is reportedly a stealthy flying wing being designed by Tupolev—which previously tinkered with the Tu-202 flying-wing concept—is expected to enter production in 2020 at Kazan. It’s not clear whether Tupolev is drawing on elements of the 1980s-vintage Tu-202 for the new design.
It’s even possible the model depicted in the photo is the Tu-202.
If and when the PAK-DA enters service, the heavy warplane is expected to be equipped with a new electronic warfare system and long-range cruise missiles. Some reports indicate that the new aircraft will also carry hypersonic missiles.
A rough analogue of America’s B-2 stealth bomber, the PAK-DA is expected to the replace the Russian air force’s fleet of Tupolev Tu-95MS turboprops and Mach 2.0-capable Tu-160 bombers. Two of the latter recently flew around the world to Venezuela, skirting U.S. airspace en route.