The Russian air force proved the capabilities of its upgraded Tupolev Tu-160 bombers earlier this year, when they flew undetected through US airspace during military excercises, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti is claiming.
The aircraft flew through the US-controlled sector of the Arctic unchallenged, the country's commander of long-range strategic bombers, Lt Gen Igor Khvorov says. Khorov said that during the military exercises in April, the bombers and Tu-95s had successfully carried out four launches of Tu-95MS cruise missile.
RIA Novosti says the US Air Force is now investigating why its military was unable to detect the Russian bombers. "They were unable to detect the aircraft either with radars or visually," says Khvorov.
The success of the missions has convinced Moscow to aquire two additional Tu-160s for the long-range bomber fleet by the end of the year, Khorov said. The air force has delayed investing in full stealth capability on cost grounds, preferring better camouflage on the Tu-160s. The first of the new-build Tu-160s was delivered just prior to the incident, from the Kazan aircraft plant.