Russia began construction on the first prototype strategic stealth bomber as part of the Advanced Aviation Complex for Long-Range Aviation program (PAK DA).
This was reported by TASS, citing two anonymous sources in the military-industrial complex.
“One of the aircraft factories in the structure of the United Aircraft Corporation will be engaged in the manufacture of glider elements of the first machine, the development of detailed design documentation has been completed, and the supply of materials has begun,” the source said.
As another TASS source specified, the aircraft cockpit is already being manufactured.
“The final assembly of the entire machine should be completed in 2021,” he said.
The Tupolev press office provided no comment when TASS attempted to confirm the information on the PAK DA.
In December 2019, Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Alexei Krivoruchko in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper said that the outline design of the aircraft was approved, PJSC Tupolev began to develop working design documentation, and the creation of parts and components of prototypes PAK DA was started.
In February 2020, Krivoruchko announced that this year the first engine for the PAK DA will be handed over for stand trials.
It is known that the PAK DA is designed using the flying wing scheme. The machine will feature technologies and materials that reduce its radar visibility (stealth technology). The plane will be subsonic, and will be able to carry current and future cruise missiles, precision bombs and hypersonic weapons, it will be provided with the newest communications and jamming equipment.
According to the documentation of PJSC Tupolev published on the public procurement website, a total of three flight prototypes of the aircraft should be built under the PAK DA program.
Preliminary tests of prototypes of the PAK DA aviation complex should be carried out from April 2023 to the end of 2025, and the beginning of the State tests is scheduled for February 2026.
The work is being carried out by PJSC Tupolev within the framework of the state contract concluded in 2017 for the development of the ROC under the code “Messenger-1”.
Since 2009, Tupolev PJSC has been fulfilling a contract for the outline design of the aircraft. The military decided that the PAK DA would be subsonic and subtle, made according to the “flying wing” scheme (the fuselage and wing of the aircraft represent a single structure, and the machine does not have tail). At the beginning of 2017, a full-size layout and digital model appeared.
The aircraft will have an increased flight duration without refueling compared to the Tu-160 and carry a large combat load. In addition to conventional and nuclear weapons, the PAK DA is also planned to be equipped with hypersonic weapons and air-to-air missiles for self-defense.
The crew of the new machine will consist of four people, as on the strategic missile carrier Tu-160. To equip the first PAK DA, 12 catapult seats will be manufactured. Their creation and preparation for mass production will cost 500 million rubles ($7 million).
Back in 2017, Yuri Borisov, the then Deputy Minister of Defense, said that flight tests of the first prototypes could begin in 2025.
“The transition to a new generation is a technically complex and long process, and most likely, state tests will stretch for more than two years. On a promising bomber, new chemical materials and paint are used, it is made in a different design,” honored Test Pilot, Hero of Russia, Igor Malikov said.
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