Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has returned a pair of recently upgraded Tupolev Tu-160M1 Blackjack supersonic-capable strategic missile carriers to the Russian Ministry of Defence.
The aircraft – serials RF-94102 (c/n 83007526, ‘02 Red’) Vasily Reshetnikov and RF-94112 (c/n 84007142, ‘04 Red’) Ivan Yarygin – departed the Gorbunov Kazan Aircraft Plant, located in Russia’s Tatarstan region, on April 23. The pair flew to the nation’s Saratov region and were accepted by specialists from the 264th Military Representation of the Ministry of Defence. They will be integrated back into Vozdushno-Kosmicheskiye Sily (VKS, Russian Aerospace Forces) service and will be assigned to the 121st Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment at Engels, alongside other Tu-160s.
Starting from 2014, partial improvements have been introduced on six Tu-160M1 (first-stage upgrade) bombers. Enhancements have been made to the aircraft’s inertial navigation and engine control systems, along with the platform’s armaments, through “modern digital technologies”.
However, these two examples have previously been seen integrated with all of the external features of the M1 standard. Last June, Ivan Yarygin was on display at the ARMY-2019 exhibition at Kubinka and in August last year, Vasily Reshetnikov was present at the MAKS 2019 airshow in Zhukovsky. On March 12, the latter was intercepted over the Atlantic by Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, Scotland, suggesting that minor corrections may have been made in April – prior to the formal handover.