The White Swan Tupolev TU-160 Blackjack strategic bomber

The heaviest combat aircraft ever to be built, the Tupolev TU-160 (NATO codename Blackjack) is a supersonic, variable geometry heavy bomber designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau.Due to the antiflash white finish and excellent maneuverability the TU-160 was nicknamed by its pilots the White Swan.There are currently 16 White Swans in service with the Russian Air Force.

In 1967 the Soviet Union launched a competition for a new supersonic strategic bomber.Both the Tupolev Design Bureau and Myasishchev Design Bureau responded to the challenge.Myasishchev proposed a variable geometry configuration and in 1973 Tupolev was assigned with the development of the new aircraft as it was considered that it had more chances of completing the project.Tupolev was to improve the Myasishchev design using all the knowledge gained with the TU-144 Concordski, the world’s first supersonic civilian transport aircraft.

On 18 December 1981 the TU-160 made its maiden flight and in 1984 production was authorized at the Kazan Aviation Association.
Under the factory designation “aircraft K” or “product 70” production was given green light for 100 to be built.Due to lack of funds out of the 100 only 35 were manufactured including the prototypes and production was halted in 1994.

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