The White Swan of Russia’s Air Force Tupolev TU-160 Blackjack

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 14 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 M-18 design using all the knowledge gained with the TU-144 Concordski, the world’s first supersonic civilian transport aircraft and also the Tu-22 Blinder supersonic bomber.

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.In 1987 the Blackjack officially entered service. Due to lack of funds out of the 100 only 35 were manufactured including the prototypes and production was halted in 1994.Today the Blackjack is again in production, after president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will resume strategic aviation flights.The Russian Air Force is expected to have a total number of 30 operational Tupolev TU-160 Blackjack strategic bombers by the year 2012.

Often compared with the Rockwell B-1B Lancer, the TU-160, although similar with its american counterpart, is bigger and able to carry a greater payload.The White Swan has an operational range of 14,000 km and a service ceiling of 16,000 m.Between 1989 and 1990 the aircraft set 44 new world speed records in its class.

On 25 April 2006 Commander Igor Khvorov claimed that the North American airspace was penetrated by the Tupolev TU-160 without detection, claim that led to a NATO investigation.



Wingspan, Wings Forward 55.7m
Wingspan With Wings Swept 35.6m
Length 54.1m
Height 13.1m


Maximum Take-Off Weight 275t
Normal Combat Load Weight 9,000t
Maximum Combat Load Weight 40,000t
Fuel Weight 148,000t


Operational Flight Range With Normal Combat Load 14,000km
Operational Flight Range With Maximum Combat Load 10,500km
Maximum Flight Speed at High Altitude 2,000km/h
Maximum Flight Speed Near Ground 1,030km/h
Service Ceiling 16,000m
Concrete Runway Length 3,050m

10 thoughts on “The White Swan of Russia’s Air Force Tupolev TU-160 Blackjack”

  1. Well here is another fine copy, & another example of Russian reverse engineering of American technology. So sorry Commie, but we developed the B1/TU in the 70’s (yawn) See Hitler’s comment during WWII about the Russians. He was insane, but he was correct about them. Nothing personal about the people, only the communist/socialist government is what is screwed up as many others.

  2. This post was very nicely written, and it also contains a lot of useful facts. I enjoyed your professional way of writing this post. Thanks, you have made it very easy for me to understand. Cheap Caribbean vacations can be a lot of fun for you and your whole family if you plan it right.

  3. Bomber – the weapon of protection instead of attack weapon. Why you try to condemn us? Russia isn’t going to attack Europe, isn’t going to interfere in America and other countries… We sell to nobody Tu-160, this plane is intended only for Russia. Besides, some similarity with B-1 means nothing.
    Let you also see us as mongols and communists, in words you support Hitler undertakings – just in such cases to us Tu-160 is necessary. That anybody from you from words couldn’t pass to business))))

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