The Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers broke their own world record by taking a non-stop flight of 25 hours. The previous record was also set by the same Russian jet that was for 24 hours and 24 minutes in 2010.
“Two crews of the Long-Range Aviation have set a new record for distance and duration on Tu-160 supersonic strategic missile-carrying bombers. The pilots of the Russian Aerospace Forces were in the air for more than 25 hours, covering a distance of more than 20,000 kilometers,” said Lieutenant-General Sergey Kobylash, the Russian Aerospace Forces’ Long-Range Aviation Commander, as reported by Tass.
The Russian Defence Ministry said that the bombers flew over neutral waters of the central part of the Arctic and Pacific Oceans as well as the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, Chukchi, and Barents Seas. The missile-carrying bombers took off from Engels airfield and landed in the same place.
“The Tu-160 strategic missile-carrying bombers were accompanied by Su-35S fighter jets along with foreign aircraft along certain sections of their route,” the defence ministry said. It further added that the missile-carrying bombers were refueled three times in mid-air from six IL-78 tankers.
The Russian Tu-160 is the fastest, largest and the heaviest bomber ever built and was first brought in service in 1987. It has an all-weather, day-night capability and can operate at all geographical latitudes.
It recently got a new lease of life when its modernization program was announced which would include improved engines and avionics. The bomber can carry twelve strategic Kh-55MS cruise missiles that have a maximum range is 3,000km, and it is armed with a 200kt nuclear warhead. The aircraft can also carry Kh-15P, which has a range of up to 200km.