Russia is pressing ahead with plans to develop its new PAK-DA stealth bomber, which is on par with its US analogues and will carry an array of modern weapons, including hypersonic missiles.
The PAK-DA, which is being developed by Tupolev, is expected to be a subsonic flying-wing aircraft that is roughly analogous to the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit and the US Air Force’s forthcoming Long Range Strike-Bomber, National Interest wrote.
The PAK-DA is likely to feature many of the technologies that are expected to be incorporated into the new Tu-160M2 version.
In a break from previous Russian and Soviet bombers, which focused on using a combination of speed and long-range cruise missiles to deliver their payloads, the PAK-DA is the first Russian bomber optimized for stealth.
That said, the PAK-DA will probably not be a small aircraft, close in size to a Boeing 757.
It is expected to have a range of 6,740 nautical miles. It will also be able to carry 30 tons of weapons.
PAK-DA will serve as a launch platform for long-range nuclear and conventional cruise missiles and a host of precision-guided munitions. It might also eventually be armed with hypersonic missiles, National Interest wrote.
The new bomber is expected to make its first flight sometime before 2021, with the first deliveries starting in 2023.
The PAK-DA will be a unique project in the history of Russian aviation since it will be a "flying wing" aircraft, a design never used before by Russian engineers. It will fly at subsonic speeds and the large wingspan and design features will provide the jet with reduced visibility to radar.
“This is a fundamentally new plane with a new sighting and navigation system. This plane will be equipped with the latest communication systems and electronic warfare, and will have little visibility to radar,” Long-Range Aviation Commander Lt.-Gen. Anatoly Zhuravlev said.
The PAK-DA project was launched in 2009. The military intended to receive a single type of long-range bomber to replace the current Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3.