New Russian Tu-160M bomber workshops revealed amid sanctions

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Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation has successfully wrapped up upgrades on three key workshops dedicated to building the new Tu-160 bombers, according to Russian reports. These revamped facilities will produce individual parts for the Tu-160M bombers, which will be put together at the Kazan Aviation Plant. The overhaul targeted preparatory and production areas, mechanical assembly zones, and flight test centers.

This advancement gives the Russian Aircraft Corporation fresh capabilities and speeds up the process of replenishing its fleet of Tu-160 strategic bombers. The modernization project kicked off in 2016 following the Russian Ministry of Defense’s decision to revive the production of these bombers.

From 2016 to 2024, around ten production plants have been modernized to gear up for mass production of crucial components. Under a contract spanning 2018 to 2027, the Russian Ministry of Defense plans to deliver 10 newly built Tu-160Ms to the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation.

Confirmed: Russia has included the Tu-160 bombers in the war
Photo credit: Tupolev

Criminal liability

Amid preparations for production, the company faced multiple criminal charges due to corruption and delays in project completion.

The Kazan Aviation Plant had initially planned to modernize all its facilities and workshops by 2020. However, due to the reported inability to meet these deadlines, the ongoing upgrades were financed by the company itself.

Putin joins Kazan to unveil four deeply upgraded Tu-160M bombers
Photo credit: UAC

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the Kazan Aviation Plant is currently modernizing older models, such as the Tu-22M3 and the older Tu-160 aircraft.

A new project is coming up

In 2019, facing financial difficulties, KazGAP was acquired by Technodinamika, a branch of the Russian defense giant Rostec. This purchase led to subsequent modernization efforts.

Putin joins Kazan to unveil four deeply upgraded Tu-160M bombers
Photo credit: UAC

To date, nine facilities, including the aggregate and final assembly shops, have received compliance certificates and commissioning permits. According to United Aircraft Corporation, construction on heat treatment and coating production is 86% complete.

It is anticipated that all modernization work at the Kazan Aviation Plant will be finished this year. Additionally, a new modernization project valued at over 90 billion rubles is on the horizon, poised to enhance the serial production of the Tu-214 civil aircraft.

First tests

Confirmed: Russia has included the Tu-160 bombers in the war
Photo credit: Reuters

In July 2023, the first upgraded Tu-160M strategic missile carrier began state suitability tests. The flight tests were conducted by joint crews from the Russian Aerospace Forces and developers.

This improved model boasts enhanced NK-32-02 engines, revamped avionics, updated onboard radio equipment, and a brand-new control system. Additionally, it features a modern radio-electronic warfare system. The Kazan Aviation Plant of Sergei Gorbunov manages the upgrades. By February 2023, the second upgraded Tu-160M was dispatched to the flight test base.

To restart production of the bomber, advanced techniques like vacuum welding of titanium products and aircraft body assembly production were restored. A network of industrial enterprises was also formed, spanning fields like metallurgy, aircraft construction, machine building, and instrument making.


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