With the United States already rolling out plans to equip its Air Force with futuristic B-21 Raider Stealth Bombers by mid-2020s, rivals Russia has also ramped up efforts to bring in the revolutionary next-generation PAK DA stealth bombers.
The Tupolev Prospective Aviation Complex for Long-Range Aviation (PAK DA), codenamed Poslannik, is a next-generation nuclear-capable strategic bomber, built by Moscow based aerospace giant Tupolev for the Russian Air Force.
According to Russian News Agency TASS, the construction on the first bomber under the PAK DA program had already begun, with the first prototype expected to be finished by the end of next year.
“The production of airframe elements will be handled by one of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)’s plants; development of working design documentation is complete, material shipping has commenced,” a source told TASS.
“The final assembly of the entire machine should be complete in 2021,” according to another source while talking to TASS.
According to reports, the PAK DA has been designed using the flying wing scheme, which means that the bomber will be a tailless fixed-wing aircraft with no definite fuselage and with its crew, fuel, payload and equipment stacked accommodated inside the main wing structure.
The stealth bomber, which will be equipped with the newest communications and jamming equipment, will travel at subsonic speed and is estimated to have an operational range of about 12,000 kilometers.
The new strategic bomber is also reported to be able to carry nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles along with air-to-air missiles for self-defense and air-launched hypersonic weapons. One of the most significant features will be its stealth technology which will help it reduce its radar visibility.
While it has some parallels with B-2 and B-21 bombers, unlike the US-made bombers which have a smaller or more blended incline between the fuselage and wings to reduce radar visibility, the PAK DA bombers have rectangular-shaped inlets aligned parallel to the top of the fuselage.
Despite their rectangular inlets seeming less stealthy, the bombers create a distinct horizontal line or clear linear configuration across the inlets and fuselage in a clear effort to reduce or eliminate and return radar signature.
This enables them to not only evade surveillance radar systems but also evade higher-frequency, more precise engagement radar, which makes them not only almost impossible to hit but also to go undetected.
Last month, Tupolev Aircraft Company had announced that PAK DA will undergo trials at the Flight Test and Development Center in the town of Zhukovsky outside Moscow.
“There are big plans ahead for testing and further developing the heavily upgraded Tu-22M3M, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS aircraft along with large-scale work for testing the prospective complex of long-range aviation (PAK DA),” said Alexander Konyukhov, CEO of Tupolev.
Once the trials are finished successfully, it is expected that the long-range strategic bombers will be delivered to Russia’s Aerospace Force from 2025-2030.