The Russian Air Force is likely to take delivery of the first perspective aviation complex for long-range aviation (PAK-DA) next generation bomber aircraft in 2023.
Russian Air Force commander-in-chief lieutenant general Viktor Bondarev was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the long-range bomber is scheduled to perform its maiden test flight in 2019.
"State tests and supplies will be completed in 2023," Bondarev said, contradicting previous reports, which had hinted that the PAK DA bombers could be supplied to the air force by 2020.
United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) director general Mikhail Pogosyan had earlier told reporters that the full-fledged construction work would commence this year.
Jointly manufactured by Tupolev Design Bureau and UAC, the PAK-DA is a next-generation strategic bomber, and is scheduled to replace the Russian Air Force's existing Tu-95MC Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers, and Tu-22M3 Backfire long-range bomber aircraft.
The aircraft, which is designed to penetrate through and suppress modern air defences, is expected to be armed with advanced electronic warfare systems and new nuclear-capable long-range cruise missiles, on recommendations of the Russian Defence Ministry.
In addition to this, the bomber will also feature new airframe, stealth technology, and a broad spectrum of high-precision conventional weapons, including hypersonic weapons.
The Russian Air Force currently operates a total of 32 Tu-95MC6, 31 Tu-95MC16 and 13 Tu-160 bombers, which when combined can carry 850 long-range cruise missiles, according to the news agency.
Image: The PAK-DA long-range bomber is scheduled to replace the Russian Air Force's Tu-160 bomber aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Sergey Krivchikov - Russian AviaPhoto Team.