Russia's Tupolev Tu-160 aircraft, also known as the White Swan, is truly an iconic work of aviation technology. This majestic and beautiful aircraft created in the USSR is a supersonic strategic missile carrying bomber that has a swing-wing design. This is the largest and most powerful supersonic aircraft in the history of military aviation.
Not that long ago, two Russian Tu-160 bombers flew to Venezuela. The flight caused quite a commotion in Washington. The USA even threatened to invade Venezuela if Russia was going to open its air base in the Latin American country. Why such a reaction?
To this day, strategic bombers remain the most important aspect of the nuclear triad. Russia and the United States still remain world leaders in the field of military aircraft making.
USA's main strategic bomber is the supersonic B-1 Lancer, as well as the heavy and stealthy B-2 Spirit bomber. However, even though the B-2 was considered the best strategic bomber in the world for a long time primarily due to its stealth technology, facts speak for themselves.
The B-2 can fly at a speed of 0.95 Mach, whereas its maximum range of combat radius makes up 5, 000 km. The White Swan can fly at a speed of 1.84 Mach, whereas its maximum range of the combat radius is 7,300 km.
The American aircraft is inferior to the White Swan in terms of the combat payload as well: 23 tons for the B-2 and 45 tons for the Tu-160.
The White Swan does not have the stealth technology. However, the Russian strategic bomber carries cruise missiles on board. First and foremost, it goes about X-101 cruise missiles. This is a strategic missile that is capable of striking targets at a distance of up to 5,500 km. The missile has a technology to reduce radar visibility. There is also a nuclear version of this missile - X-102. To crown it all, the Tu-160 can cover a distance of 13,000 km without refueling. One may conclude that the White Swan aircraft can overcome any air defense system.
It was reported that Rostec State Corporation develops a unique composite material, which would be applied to glass cockpit windows of the Tu-160. The technology will reduce the radar visibility of the aircraft significantly.