Russia Approves Plans for Next Generation Bomber

The Russian air force is developing a next generation bomber similar to the efforts by their U.S. counterparts.

Russia’s effort took a step forward April 11 when Russian Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev signed off on the conceptual design and specification for the PAK-DA strategic bomber, according to a report by the state owned Russian International News Agency.

Russian plans to replace its Tu-95MS Bear Tu-160 Blackjack bombers with this next generation bomber.  Russian air force leaders hope to get the plane into production by 2020 and then into the active service by 2025. Further, the Russians would like to develop an unmanned version of the bomber by 2040.

Russian leaders had discussed the pursuit of hypersonic technology, similar to the U.S., but it appears the first iteration will not feature the engines that could propel the plane to speeds five times the speed of sound. Last August, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the Russian air force would not settle for a U.S. B-2 clone and would try to develop a hypersonic bomber.

Instead, the Russian development will focus on mounting long range cruise missiles that could have hypersonic capability. The Russian air force also hope to take leaps with advanced electronic warfare systems.

The Russian aerospace company, Tupolev, won the contract to design the strategic bomber fleet. Officials have said the bomber will have stealth capabilities and a “flying wing” shape similar to the B-2, according to Russian media reports.

U.S. Air Force leaders continue to press for the development of their own next generation bombers listing it Friday as one of the service’s top modernization priorities despite forthcoming budget cuts.

Plenty of questions remain whether the service could realistically design hypersonic engines for a bomber within budget over the next decade especially when considering a few of the set backs the service has experienced recently.

In August, the X-51 Waverider failed to complete its test over the Pacific Ocean when the missile fell into the water after only 15 seconds. Engineers had hoped the missile designed to fly up to 4,500 miles per hour would fly for 300 seconds.

The hypersonic aircraft uses scramjet technology to reach such high speeds meaning it doesn’t have moving parts and uses oxygen in the air opposed to liquid fuel. The test failure occurred at an inopportune time as it was the last budgeted test meaning the service will have to fight for funding to keep the program alive.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • blight_

    These images look more blended wing body than flying wing. That said, I find it interesting that they’re upgrading the strategic bomber fleet, making more Iskanders, working with India on the Brahmos.

    Strategic priorities?


      China maybe. I said in a comment down below that the Chinese will just make a crude copy, or buy, this aircraft. Russia might be trying to signal that it doesn’t want that, so its making something that China doesn’t have the capability to produce. That said, just looking at the tail fins, this isn’t very stealthy. Also, at 90 degrees, will it survive hypersonic flight? Look at the SR-71. I have some SERIOUS doubts that Russia can pull this off. They haven’t even flown a hypersonic aircraft yet (officially). I think, personally, the US next gen bomber will out class this. And even it isn’t built, I would rather fly in a B-2 or B-1B or B-52 than this. They are proven systems, and especially the B-1B, can launch cruise missiles. I don’t understand why you need hypersonic speeds to launch missiles. What purpose will that have?

      • blight_

        They’re just throwing things at the wall until something sticks.

        It’s vaporware like our NGB.


          Lets hope it fails.

      • bum291

        Don’t expect that picture to actually be the final aircraft… The russians have a slightly different mentality and approach at such things. The Mig-25 was finished even if it’s adversary wasn’t there, for example. With Putin at the wheels, new groundbreaking bombers is a high priority. He wants to raise Russian military profile. There is more sense in this than in the strategic bomb flights that they are doing right now. It will probably not “fail”, but budget might overrun and target preformance might not be met, but transparency is just not there in Russia, don’t express congress to vote it down in mid-developement. The went trough with the Ka-50/52 and Mi-28 and made effective helicopters out of them even if the cold war was over and defense research budget was minimal.

  • Uncle Bill

    Still not interested.

    • Musson

      How can you say that? We MUST prevent a mineshaft GAP!

  • Ben

    I could be way off here, but wouldn’t flying at hypersonic speeds make you a huge target on any IR tracker? That doesn’t exactly sound stealthy to me.

    • Sev

      What missile is going to catch them?

      • ziv

        Sev, if the long range cruise missiles are flying at you at hypersonic speed, it would be a simplified version of a Ft. Greely missile hit to kill intercept. Like Ben mentioned, their IR signature would be huge, but a Standard would probably be able to hit them pretty easily from the front, but there isn’t going to be an up the tail-pipe option for shooting them down, as you correctly noted.

        • Restore Palestine

          Standard? Nah. It’s useless against Russian and Chinese missiles. All their missiles have been designed with Standard in mind.

          • William_C1

            And each new upgrade of Standard has been designed with those threats in mind.

          • Restore Palestine

            It doesn’t matter how many BS “upgrades” the US would make on the Standard, it doesn’t work against Russian and Chinese missiles.

          • IronV

            Your repeated demonstrations of expansive and intimate knowledge of aerospace engineering is impressive.

          • blight_

            It borders on magic faith in the superiority of the Slav and the Asiatic!


          • Restore Palestine

            Nah. More like expansive and intimate knowledge of the track record of US defense industry, the extent of expertise US defense contractors have demonstrated, the utter incompetence of US politicians, the pathetic state of US financial quagmire, and limits of engineering based on Physics and Mathematics.

            Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the probability of the US completing any major defense engineering project as planned and advertized is about the same as that of landing a fair coin on its edge.

          • IronV

            “The limits of engineering based on physics and mathematics?” Oh, now you’re a theoretical physicist too!

            Your comments are laughably absurd on their face. In fact your nonsensical babble serves only to prove you know precisely, zero about either US or Russian defense technologies and capabilities.

            You are a mere troll with a myopic, infantile political agenda.

          • whatever

            huh? Restore Palestine has at least been right on about the track record of US defense R&D and the corrupt incompetent government. What have you come up with? Bull**** and lame insult.

            you should rename yourself “IronIdiotV” or simply “IdiotV”

            or have you just misspelled your name?

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            I think you have misspelled your name. Its “Restore Palestine” not “whatever”. Really, please go off and read some comments that were made by you I MEAN Restore Palestine.

          • Restore Palestine

            BS ENTERPRISE mental, that’s not me. You should take your psychiatric medications before turning on the computer. But then you wouldn’t be BS’ing here if you are properly medicated. Right?

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            What do you know about either math or science? Both of those fields required knowledge in FACTS.

          • Restore Palestine

            What does a mental like you know about FACTS? HaHa.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            US astronauts landed on the moon.

          • Restore Palestine

            How many times do you hallucinate about this a day?

          • blight_

            Which Standard missile in particular? And which “Russian and Chinese missiles” in particular?

            The family has gone through several upgrade cycles mixing new boosters and seekers to the point that they share few parts in common. The high altitude TMD versions (SM-3) have three booster stages, SM-6 is two-stage, slower, but uses an AMRAAM seeker head.

            Asides from the obvious fact that any weapons designer must plan for enemy radar and counter-missile systems and designs accordingly, designing for something-in-mind is rarely a gurantor of 100% effectiveness. And this is true on both sides of the coin.

      • extreme_one

        S-400! Mach 5.0


          Russians missiles shooting Russian aircraft. Brilliant.

          • Restore Palestine

            Well, do you have a better solution? Compared to Russian missiles, American missiles are second rate. Your best shot will be to steal the missiles or technology from the Russians, like the US has frequently done with most things high tech.

          • Dirk

            Why would the US develop a S-400-type system when the Russians/Chinese have nothing that requires it? SM-3/Patriot/THAAD are quite sufficient for the time being.

          • Restore Palestine

            Perhaps you should ask Reagan or his trusted advisers or sponsors. His administration started the ambitious “STAR WAR” defense program. Granted, the BS plan has failed spectacularly. But the reasons for the program haven’t changed yet, have they?

          • ChrisB
          • Dirk

            Yeah, let’s steal their superior Bulava technology, our ICBMs are far too reliable currently.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            That cause we have a first rate air force that doesn’t need SAMS. But we do have them, and the aren’t exactly bad either.

          • Restore Palestine

            correction: a first rate FAKE air force, one that couldn’t even handle Indian Air Force.

          • Eretz Israel

            Well, a better air force than the one the palestinians have, that´s for sure

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Yeah, lets just forget that the US swept the skies during both Gulf Wars, held one of largest bombing campaigns in modern history after WWII almost singlehandedly (Kosovo). Yeah, fake.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Funny. In a discussion a while back, you said that both India and the US were, at best second rate, meaning they were on par with each other. You can’t even stay straight with your own crap. No wonder everything you say is a lie.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            “… the US has frequently done with most things high tech” okay then. Explain this : Seems like the Motherland has been up to some hacking on its own. Read facts.

          • Dfens

            Not to mention the fact that a missile going Mach 5 for a second is not going to catch an airplane cruising at more than Mach 3 and 100,000 ft altitude. Hell, even if you launched the missile at the same altitude just as the airplane was abreast of the missile, the missile still wouldn’t catch it. Plus, when did we get infrared radar? What a bunch of goof balls.

    • ChuckL

      The problem is that we did not develop th infra red equipment to do the seach and tacking of this plane. So far only the ussians have it.

  • Liv

    This reads like it was copied directly from the RT website. PowerPoint aircraft are amazing, which is what this will only be.

  • Big-Dean

    yawn…..just another grand Russian plan

  • The Old Bear

    And the Chinese are also developing a similar design for use as a Long Range Heavy Bomber. I give a 50-50 chance that they will team up to jointly develop a new heavy bomber capable of projecting their power across the world and attacking America if it gets too uppity.

    • Musson

      Why? If they already have missiles why build a bomber?

      Remember, a shipping container is also a nuclear delivery system.


        My thoughts exactly. Actually, it very oxymoronic to me. Why build a hypersonic bomber, and then just load it with missiles? I mean, that is what submarines are for.

      • Restore Palestine

        To induce the US into another wasteful spending spree, followed by a fake “successful defense project” like the fake manned lunar landing some of the guys here have talked about.


          Bro, do you even understand history? Look, we landed on the moon. Get the Hubble telescope to focus on “Tranquility Base” or another landing site, and you will find the bottom half of the Lunar Module. FACT.

    • blight_

      Balance of power. As long as we have B-2 bombers that can deliver a bomb to Beijing and Moscow through rings of anti-air missile batteries and surveillance radars, they will want a similar capability. They are not sacrificing their multi-pronged strategic deterrence.

      Perhaps the PRC will move to acquire long-range bombers and SSB’s; or SSBN’s?

  • Che chang

    Can you imagine where we would be if we all worked together instead of each having to spend tons on R&D.

  • tiger

    Why does Putin need a mach 5 bomber? Sure, the Bear & Blackjack are due for the bone yards. But is Russia thinking about the USA as a foe?? Who else will take their mail order brides, LUK oil & Vodka?


      I think that Russia is trying to begin isolating itself from the US. Why? I don’t have answer. But recently, they have been making “provoking” actions, such as trying to move missiles to their Eastern shores, there by being able to take out any US city (though they can do that with ICBMs). Russia should really be taken more seriously. I say crank up the US defense and space sectors to the max, a bit like in the 60’s with Apollo. And the Blackbird.

      • Belesari

        Most of Russia’s actions are directed internally. Not that they wouldn’t Love to fuck us over but. China is the Russians biggest concern I think.


          Hmph. Yes. I mean, China is a nuclear state, and it is close to Russia. But it raises this question: Why would China attack an ally? I mean, lets be honest here, Russia and China love to hate on the US. Personally, I would be most afraid if Putin or some other Russian “politician” did the unthinkable, and turned Russia into a communist state again. That would be bad.

    • bum291

      Watch russian state news on TV fow a while and you know USA is their foe… Economy, adoption issues, military/foreign policy and weapon developements, all is put out to be a threat to Russia/Imperialist-world dominating behaviour.

  • Ricky

    Looks very awesome though.

  • Tribulationtime

    They have not Super-carriers. So make sense they have a vector to bring “Awe and Shock” nights elsewere. But they will need a lot of development, there is a “toilet-papel long” list of problems. I´ll exchange hyper for high supersonic cruiser and a lot of range and loitering time (not at High Mach of course).


      I agree. I mean, look at the -71. It leaked fuel on the ground, as it panel gaps that would allow the aircraft to “grow” under the extreme heat and stress the fuselage went under. Mach 5 is something else. I mean, look at the X-15. It was essential a rocket that was going horizontally. Heat will be a massive issue, and I don’t want to seem to patriotic to the US, but Russia, I HIGHLY doubt, has the capabilities to, at least by themselves, make this all work.

  • JoeSovereign

    The Long Range Hyper-Sonic (Stealth?) cruise missle is obviously the most logical path for both the Russians and the US. They could be launched from air, ground or sea platforms and can be replaced less expensively as technology advances.

    Building giant billion dollar manned bombers that have to avoid detection refuel and return to base is a huge unnecessary expense. Any kind of Long Range Air Craft could be built or converted to carry these missles to the region of the world needed and the long range cruise missles fired from a safe distance.


      Well, what happened to the submarine fleets?

      • blight_

        Russians are slimming down. Typhoons are going out, replaced with smaller, less observable SSBN’s. Alfas are going away, their unique liquid sodium reactors were maintenance hell. They have a new SSN in the pipe. They still have the trusty Kilos.

  • Steve B.

    I’m thinking that a stealth capable bomber that you can park over some potential enemies capitol, gives nightmares to the potential enemy. Somewhat influences the decision making process when you don’t really know if your adversary is about to drop a couple of bunker busters on your head. So even a few of them become a useful tool, as the U.S has discovered with the B2

  • david

    How does Putin intend to fund this new bomber? With the money he’s “allegedly” stolen from the Russian people?


      Well, that is a good point. Its not that Russia is broke, it isn’t. But the money required to produce such a craft would be a lot, and I don’t think that Russia is up to the plate. But then again, I am not well versed in how Tupolev gets money to make aircraft. Though I would imagine it gets money from the Russian government, a bit like, say, Lockheed Martin.

  • Will Leach

    This story was not clear, and it seems that this whole discussion is based on some bad infotmation. Here is a clearer page.


    Likely, yes. Subsonic, eh. I don’t know. On the one hand, just look at the TU-160. On the other hand, look at the TU-95. Its kinda hard to tell what the Russians will do. A flying wing is something I doubt. The reason is because A) well, they stated they don’t want one and B) Because of, and this isn’t really a requirement, more of a sense of pride and patriotism, but basically, it will seem to the Russian public that Russia is just copying the US B-2. I mean, the TU-160 and B-1 have similar looking traits. It sounds weird, but I think that such thoughts have at least some bearing on the final results, whatever it will be.

  • Dave Barnes

    One can only hope the Russkies piss away a lot of money on these.
    And, if they are successful, we can copy them.

  • l_veda

    This is just Russian old propaganda to kick start super-trillion dollar US’s bomber project to bankrupt the country. LM is smiling hahahha… lolz

    • Dfens

      Yeah, clearly our socialism is still better than their socialism.

    • William_C1

      So lets just sit on our asses while our current bomber fleet ages and shrinks, right?

  • superraptor

    what is more concerning that they are building new nuclear warheads while we are dismantling ours to create this world free of US nuclear weapons thanks to our great leader.

  • Dfens

    What they really need is a bomber blimp that could rocket in at 60 mph!!!!!!

    • blight_

      It would need 40mm Bofors and steampunk to fight Iranian speedboats, oneoneone!


      Well, doesn’t the Good Year blimp do that with ads?

  • Elstan

    By the time the Russies and Chikies have the third generation bombers the Yankees would have conquered space with another technology, and shoot any mosquito entering the US Space…And it will be too late for any competitor to enter the space market, instead to negotiate with the conquerors.


      Thats bit generous to the USA. Before we can ‘take out any fly that enters US airspace’ we need the money, and the government isn’t exactly getting along well here. So US government, HINT HINT, give generously to possibly the most the best symbol of America. That is NASA.

  • anonymous

    “…uses oxygen in the air opposed to liquid fuel.”
    It’ll still need fuel. Successfully burning fuel in a scramjet engine is the difference between producing just enough thrust to overcome the enormous amount of drag present at hypersonic speeds, and not being take your forehead off the dashboard.

  • Wen

    Is anyone paying attention? …Take a look at the time frame mention do put this in play. The Russians perhaps already have stolen U.S. testing technology for this project or have an agent in place working w/ the R&D team similar to the Manhattan Project. If not, they will simply work in-concert w/ the Chines to hack it. And upon development completion, will repackage the technology in a slightly different design to convince the rest of the world that they have been working with this technology all along.

  • Mark

    I would hope we could convince the Russians that the Chinese are a bigger strategic threat to them than we are.

  • Lance

    Given Russia economy tanked again this month you wont see any Russian Stealth Bomber till the mid 2030s.

  • Mikey

    Blah Blah Blah, this is all Putin Tootin his horn. . . Stuff like this doesn’t make any since in today’s world. Smaller wars are the order of the future. Large conflicts are a thing of the past.
    We, that’s you and I and our kids are going to be fighting Terrorist cells, Pirates, and some home grown nut ball that lives down the street from you and that thinks he is saving the world by not paying his taxes, or having Car insurance. The idea of some super bomber is no longer viable. Oh well I’ve vented. . . Chrees


      Well thought out statement. I agree whole-heartedly. Only “major” wars I see will be NK and Iran, and that is assuming those two actually survive long enough.

  • MIKE

    Sounds like another good reason to remake the movie “Firefox”… of course with Clint Eastwood as the director. Besides a good movie, I don’t think Russia is within 10 years of having such an aircraft. However, 10 years goes by fast – it was 10 years ago that we invaded Iraq!

    • Dfens

      10 years goes by fast when it takes us 30 years to develop a new fighter jet.


      Lets just skip to Star Trek and make the Defiant class.

  • Rob C.

    I will believe it when i see it fly. Russian economy been struggling for a long time. They’ve still haven’t gotten their quality control they lost since the cold war.

    If they do, it might motivate US Congress to actually stop monkey around with development of the defense systems like the next gen bomber. Yes their defense contractors are ripping off US DoD, but their messing up because requirements for these new systems like the bomber while their in middle developing them.

  • Dfens

    I think we should clearly cancel the F-35 right before it goes into production after spending hundreds of billions of dollars on its design and development. Then we should cancel the subsonic, next generation bomber right before it goes into production. That way we’ll seem way tougher than a country that proposes to build a Mach 5 bomber.

    • Ronald L. Hughes


  • Chris

    I sense there are 2 ways to take this.

    The first is, as many have already mentioned, that this is a political project with a rather slim chance of becoming reality. I think there is some use to such projects in that while the plane itself may never be commissioned it provides a milestone with which to influence lawmakers and thus budgets. The XB-70 would be an example, one which the specifications read quite close to the PAK-DA only a bit faster and stealthier. If they take it seriously enough the obstacles they solve in the course of creating this thing will be of great value to Russian aerospace. If you can make a bomber go that fast, you can make a lot of other platforms go that fast too. The Russians know, just as we know how expensive bombers are to keep up to date and fueled, as well as just how vulnerable they are. So I hope for their sake that this is only a cool milestone that has all the right keywords to get funded for awhile.

    The other possibility (and this is real speculation here) is that as a UAV capable of carrying other drones and cruise missiles it could be seen as a kind of flying and disposable carrier. To make this system work you would have to have dedicated ISR type drones launch from standardized cruise missile bays. Given Russia’s love of the cruise missile, beginning with the Bear, to the Oscars, to the Ekranoplans, etc, it is conceivable they they might build one to get a lot of real time data with fast drones with which to fire a myriad of platforms. This would package Shock & Awe into a platform that could get itself close to your problem in a few hours. It would have to be simple and modular to make this project worth it, since we already know the technology it is being designed around today will be obsolete long before this thing flies. Cruise missiles are a very modular platform, so it would make sense to build a fast host if you could nail down the intelligence gathering issue.

  • Ronald L. Hughes

    All of us should recognize that the latest of defensive or offensive air-born weapons should be unmanned! Hell, we have been training young people for the last 30 years or so to fly these things, via remote control!

  • Ronald L. Hughes

    BTW, any remote controlled aircraft would by design, be able to out maneuver any manned aircraft, and as a direct result, would be smaller and able to carry out orders to actually fly into the incoming attackers as one would direct a missile!

    Thus they would be cheaper, more efficient and deadlier!

  • Brandon

    My friend just used gasoline thinking it was mouth
    wash haha

  • Stratege

    The bomber picture posted above is a speculation which is based on the Tupovel’s old design.

  • ChukyChez1

    It was 1987 when Russia invaded Afghanistan & started this whole ME mess.