TUPOLEV TU-160M (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     24th February 2024        

Context: The Russian President recently unveiled the newly modernised Tupolev Tu-160M nuclear-capable strategic bomber at Kazan Aviation Plant.

Tupolev Tu-160M

  • About: The Tu-160M represents a modernized iteration of a Cold War-era bomber with strategic significance for long-range weapon delivery in potential nuclear conflicts.
  • The Tu-160M is a Russian supersonic variable-sweep wing strategic missile-carrying bomber.
  • Known as the:  "White Swan” in Russia and code-named “Blackjacks” by NATO, it embodies Russia's strategic air power.
  • Performance Claims: Russia boasts the Tu-160M as the world’s fastest-flying supersonic and heaviest payload-carrying bomber, emphasizing its superior capabilities.
  • Targeting Capabilities: It is meticulously designed to strike targets in remote regions using both nuclear and conventional weapons, reflecting its versatility in modern warfare scenarios.


  • Crew and Payload: The Tu-160M, with a crew of four, can carry either 12 cruise missiles or 12 short-range nuclear missiles, enhancing its operational flexibility.
  • Endurance: It boasts a remarkable non-stop flying range of 12,000 km (7,500 miles), showcasing its endurance in long-distance missions without the need for refueling.
  • Propulsion: Powered by four afterburning turbofan engines, it achieves a maximum speed of 2,220 kilometers per hour and can ascend to heights of 16,000 meters, ensuring swift and high-altitude operations.
  • Advanced Features: The Tu-160M incorporates cutting-edge features such as an innovative navigation system, upgraded radar, and in-flight refueling capability through a refueling probe, all of which contribute to its extended operational range and enhanced performance.