The first modernized Russian Tu-168M strategic bomber has completed its maiden flight, aerospace and defense company Tupolev announced on February 2.
The bomber’s 34-minute flight occurred after the aircraft completed all ground tests in November last year.
Upgrades to the Tu-160M are set to boost the plane’s efficiency once the upgraded aircraft start operations sometime in 2021, according to Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu.
Russia’s Tu-160 modernization program is said to encompass 16 aircraft that will receive new engines and avionics in addition to communications and jamming capabilities and new weaponry.
The first Tu-160 entered service with then-USSR in 1987 and still holds the record as the largest supersonic aircraft in military history.