Russia has used its successful aerial campaign in Syria to showcase the best weapons the country has in its arsenal. Some of them, including the Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bombers and the Raduga Kh-101 cruise missiles, were combat tested for the first time.
Tu-160 Strategic Bomber
The Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bomber, whom Russian pilots lovingly call the White Swan, was sent on its first mission earlier this week. The warplane is said to be the heaviest combat aircraft ever built.
The Tu-160 can accelerate to a maximum speed of 1,380 mph, climb to a maximum altitude of 49,235 feet and has a range of 7,643 miles. It is capable of carrying up to 12 Kh-55 cruise missiles and Kh-15 short range missiles. It can also be armed with nuclear and regular bombs.
The heavy strategic bomber is scheduled for a major upgrade, which will see 60 percent of its equipment replaced with top-end gear, including hypersonic missiles, improved avionics and electronics. The aircraft will retain its trademark variable-sweep wings, three-point landing gear, all-flying tailplane and tail fin.
The Tu-160, designed by the Tupolev aerospace and defense company, has been in service since 1987.
(Thus Russian defense ministry video shows interesting details of the Blackjack bomber’s cockpit and bomb bay, as well as the loading and firing of the Raduga long-range cruise missile, both of which have made their combat début in the Syria campaign.
Kh-101 Cruise Missile
Although there has been no official confirmation, experts spotted the stealthy airborne Kh-101 cruise missile in footage released by the Russian Ministry of Defense which shows the Tu-160 conducting airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria.
The Kh-101, in development until recently, has a maximum range of 5500 kilometers (over 3,400 miles) and is capable of travelling at a maximum speed of 270 m/s. Its accuracy is reported to be around five to six meters.
The missile, outfitted with a conventional payload, is meant to replace the Kh-555. A variation, known as the Kh-102, carries a nuclear warhead.
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