Russia's air force has demonstrated an upgraded Tupolev Tu-95MSBear strategic bomber armed with a new variant of the Raduga Kh-55 (AS-15 Kent) cruise missile.

The weapon has a conventional warhead and a range of about 1,850km (1,000nm). The original Kh-55 has a nuclear warhead and a 1,110km range.

If the Russian air force continues with the Tu-95 programme, upgraded aircraft will be fitted with wing-pylons capable of carrying two missiles and mounted between the fuselage and the in-board engine.

Meanwhile, Russian air force commander Gen Anatoly Kornukov says the service is to take delivery of a new Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bomber next year from the KAPO factory in Kazan.

The air force has also initiated the upgrade of an older Tu-160, which includes an airframe life extension and arming it with "a new conventional-warhead weapon whose firing tests have been very encouraging and which will enter service after minor improvement". The Russian Tu-160 fleet includes aircraft returned by Ukraine last year.

Source: Flight International