Russia Has the Largest and Fastest Supersonic Bomber on Earth
The Tu-160 is no new bomber, for sure. But Moscow still keeps flying the planes and promises upgrades and even new versions of the bomber in the years to come. The Tu-160 has even been flown as part of the savage assault on Ukraine:
While Russia operates several different bomber models in active service, the Tu-160 sticks out as one of its most visually distinctive and capable. Known alternatively as the Blackjack by its NATO designation or the White Swan (Belyi Lebed’) by its Russian nickname, the Tu-160 is one of the most modern bombers in Russian service. Given its relatively young age and substantial upgrade potential, the Tu-160 will almost certainly remain in Russian service for years to come.
What is the White Swan Capable of?
Much of the distinctive shape of Russia’s Tu-160 is formed by its swept-back variable-geometry wings and its long, lean fuselage, which ends in an upturned point in the front of the aircraft. Four engines are spread across the aircraft’s wings, which in the most modern versions of the Blackjack are NK-32-02 engines. These powerful engines propel the White Swan with 55,000 pounds of thrust, giving the aircraft a max speed of Mach 2 with a range of 7,500 miles, making as many experts claim the largest and fastest supersonic bomber today.
With such capabilities, the Tu-160 can be equipped with 12 Kh-55MS cruise missiles or 24 Kh-15 air-launched ballistic missiles. Given the nuclear capability of Kh-55MS missiles, the Tu-160’s armament made it a critical part of the Soviet Union and Russia’s nuclear triads from the beginning of its existence.