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 Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • 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?

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      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.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          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!

      • FormerDirtDart

        They’ll see the big boards.

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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?

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      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.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          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.

          • XYZ

            They don’t need to be a communist state. Putin knows they’re past that. But they’re not going to be a Western-style democracy if he can help it. Russia, China, pretty much anyone with power who’s not in our sphere of influence (re: Europe and Japan) are angling against us. It’s a balance of power issue – nationalism will not allow for just one superpower.

            IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, of course ;)

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Japan is in our “sphere of influence”. And really, the major powers of Europe are serious US allies. Russia might not be communist, but I don’t think that we will see this government last for a long time, like the US government has, for instance. I don’t know, but I do know that Russia is about to do some crazy stuff.

    • 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).

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      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.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      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.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          They have subs, like you said, the Kilos. Also, they have missile cruisers. Once again, fast aircraft equals why?

          • blight_

            Kilos are SSK’s, they don’t deliver strategic attack. Some export Kilos have Klub missiles, others have surface to air. But no land attack.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            But will the missiles that will be strapped to this thing will be like a tomahawk? Or a nuke?

  • 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?

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      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.
    http://theaviationist.com/2013/04/12/pak-da-conce

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Hmph. Defense Tech.

  • USS ENTERPRISE

    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!

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      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.

  • 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.

    • Nicholas Roach

      that would take alot of persuasion and luck to pull off seeing as the u.s. is still the most advanced military on the planet.

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        True, but just the fact that Chinese are right next to Russia is something. Also, I doubt the US will ever really fight the Russians, or at the very least, start a conflict with them, simply because there isn’t a need to do so.

    • Restore Palestine

      Mark, if you don’t stop this kind of delusional / wishful thinking and outlandish daydreaming typically found among mentals (e.g. BS ENTERPRISE & STumpler), you will be like them in no time.

  • 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

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Well, I can see that is a well thought out comment. But this is what I see wrong. You said that this could serve the role as a “disposable flying aircraft carrier” for drones. But the thing is, is that this aircraft would have to be so advanced, at the very least, fro the Russians, that if they lost one aircraft, that is millions, if not billions of moneys lost. Its kinda like the US carrier fleet, except that US carriers have a defense wall that MIGHT protect it, and we do possess the capability to build more. Here, the loss would be way more staggering. Finally, how does one land on a flying bomber? It has no runway. If you have it connect to a sort of boom like in mid-air refueling, you create drag that would not allow such quick flight. You can’t launch something like this in flight, as opening the bomb doors and dropping something at Mach 5 is ridiculous. Overall, making a “disposable flying airport” is not really the answer.

  • 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!

    • Chris

      Such systems are also much easier to kill, both physically and in terms of the kind of clearance required to engage the target.

      This is just speculation as real drone on drone on man conflict has yet to happen, but today while visual ID is not always required I imagine it is most often preferred. If however your aircraft is shaped like a drone the pilot / AA battery may be cleared to fire without as much clearance or concern. Moreover, while an advanced UAV may be able to out fly a manned aircraft in a knife fight, it will not outpace an AWACS or Aegis guided laser from 100+ miles away. First rule of Drone War : the drones die first.

  • 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.