Russia’s upgraded long-range missile carrying bomber Tu-22M3M has reportedly performed its maiden flight from the Gorbunov Aircraft Enterprise airfield in Kazan.

The modernised missile carrying bomber is an upgraded version of the Tu-22M3 and can achieve a speed of 10 Mach.

An unidentified source was quoted by TASS as saying: “The first upgraded Tu-22M3M made the debut flight from the airfield of the Kazan-based Gorbunov Aircraft Enterprise on Friday. This flight started the missile-carrying bomber’s flight tests. There were no weapons aboard the aircraft and the flight was brief.”

Meanwhile, Xinhua quoted Russian aerospace and defence company Tupolev , which designed the aircraft, as saying: “The flight was carried out at an altitude of 1,500 metres and lasted 37 minutes.”

The bomber was also put through a series of ground-based tests.

“The revamp also involved the replacement of 80% of the aircraft avionics, which resulted in improved navigation accuracy and automation of aircraft control.”

As part of the tests, specialists tested the bomber’s new on-board radio-electronic equipment, conducted the ground-based engine runs and carried out an assessment of the compatibility of the aircraft’s artificial intelligence elements.

The modernisation of the Tu-22M3M bomber involved equipping it with new navigation, communication, aiming equipment, engines and fuel mechanisation control, as well as an electronic warfare facility.

Additional enhancements included an advanced on-board information and control system with the digital indication in the cabin and crew intelligent assistant functions.

The revamp also involved the replacement of 80% of the aircraft avionics, which resulted in improved navigation accuracy and automation of aircraft control.

The Tu-22M3 long-range strategic strike bomber was placed into service in 1989.

According to TASS, Russian company United Aircraft expects the first serial-produced bombers to become available for troops from 2021.