The Russians have shifted gears on their plans for strategic bombers. Originally, they were going to be building and flying the PAK-DA next gen
bomber within the next couple years. What the PAK-DA was going to be has changed a couple times. In press for a time, the Russian DefMin was stating
it was going to be a hypersonic bird. Then it became a subsonic stealthy flying wing. That last has held out for some time now and if the PAK-DA
actually comes to fruition, I suspect that is what they will fly.
However, recently, the first flight of the PAK-DA was postponed.
Then the Tu-160 White Swan was ordered back into production, in an upgraded form. The Russians have been streaming out how the M2 upgrade will use
the same avionics as the PAK-DA and other technologies. This is…questionable at best. Avionics are very, VERY aircraft specific. What you fly a
flying wing with would be rather different than a bolshoi swing wing.
That said, the claims from the Russian Ministry of Defense are now stating they are going to build 50 new Tu-160M2s as well as remanufacture/upgrade
Oh, and the PAK-DA has been postponed for its first flight to 2025.
With the fact the PAK-DA isn't even being built as a flying prototype like was done with the PAK-FA(1), the continual postponement of the first flight
(2017->2019->2021->2025), and the ordering of the 50 White Swans, it would seem the PAk-DA is transiting into the vaporware status for projects. Much
like the touted Skat (yes, its real name), MiG-41 & LMFS projects, I suspect it will never really materialize.
The Russians almost assuredly just cannot afford the development at this time. Oil prices are too low. Sanctions are hitting too hard. China has
only seen Russia as a usual yapping dog to keep Europe and the US distracted from its own ambitions. China remembers the border wars and when the
Soviets asked the US to join it in a joint nuclear war against the Chinese. China wants Russia annoying but not strong.
In the future, it might be well to mark the Russian project as a Power Point Ranger case, rather than something real.
1. A wooden mockup was built and recently the Russians touted a full virtual (and supposedly) complete model as well. The PAK-FA had aerodynamic
prototypes that did not use the same final materials flown initially or so it seems. The PAK-DA could have the same done to just get the avionics
right…but is not.
edit on 14-5-2017 by anzha because: forgot link for digital model