Russia is on track and partly even ahead of schedule in restarting production of the Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber, vice-secretary of Defense Yury Borisov stated on Wednesday 6 April in Russian media. The new version of the Blackjack, designated Tu-160M2, should first fly in 2019.
Russia says it wants to order 50 new Tu-160M2 for its air force, pushing back the design and production of the totally new next-generation strategic bomber known as PAK-DA. That new design has been in development since 2009 but will likely not fly before 2023.
Moscow instead choose to restart production of a revamped Tu-160 Blackjack. Sixteen older models are already in service and represent the strong arm of Russia’s strategic bomber force. The type was also used of Syria recently.
We already served you a nice dish of images of the big NATO & partners exercise Cold Response earlier, but the military photographers and the Norwegian military audiovisual unit have given us some more nice stuff! Press play and see more of the aircraft and helicopters that supported the 15,000 troops strong exercise in Northern and Central Norway, with even the Norwegian crown prince Haakon deployed, earning his tactical special operations parajump certification with the Norwegian Special Operations Command.
About 15,000 troops, including 2,000 of non-NATO member Sweden, 40 aircraft and helicopters, about a thousand vehicles and several ships and boats are currently kicking a** in Northern and Central Norway. Exercise Cold Response included the taking of the normally peaceful village of Namsos, situated on the shores of beautiful fjords.
The 7th edition of the multinational winter war exercise hosted by Norway brings units from mainly NATO countries together, to show what they can as “bad” and “good” force against each other. To train for a possible real war scenario and to show NATO’s current strange “friend” Russia that the North American-European alliance still can.
The future US Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) was officialy designated B-21 in a statement made by US Secretary of the Air ForceDeborah Lee James on Friday 26 February. On the same occasion, a computer rendering of the new design was unveiled, looking very similar to the B-2 Stealth bomber and disappointingly not revealing much more than that.
According to James, the new bomber is a key element in the future US defense strategy. It should add ‘unheard of capabilities’ to the US long range strike arsenal. The Pentagon says it will need 80 to 100 new longe range bombers to replace B-1 Lancers and B-2 Stealth bombers.
Northrop Grumman las October was announced the winning contractor for the B-21 (formerly LRS-B) program. The company also designed and built the B-2. Lockheed Martin and Boeing contested the decision, but a court recently ruled that the selection of Northron Grumman upholds. On Friday 26 February, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing said they will take no further legal action.
An actual name for the Northrop Grumman B-21 will be chosen in a selection process that is open to suggestions from US airmen. The winning name is to be presented this fall.
Germany is still in the process of working towards full strength with its Tornado aircraft over Syria. Four more Tornado jets left Germany since Monday 4 January for the Turkish airbase of Incirlik. The German Bundeswehr is expecting to reach full strength and mission capability mid-January.
Two Tornados took off from Schleswig-Jagel airbase in northern Germany on Monday and headed south. Two additional Tornados left Büchel airbase on Tuesday and also fly to Incirlik. Another two will fly to Turkey next week,
So far, the jet In Incirlik have only been used for orientation flights in Turkish airspace. Recce flights over Syria will start as soon as full strength is reached, using the Tornado’s infrared and optical image equipment.