Russia is modernising its military at an extremely fast pace and has now started constructing its first strategic stealth bomber, capable of delivering nuclear weapons, under the Perspective Aviation Complex for Long-Range Aviation (PAK DA) programme. The strategic stealth bomber, the second 5th Generation combat aircraft from Russia after the Sukhoi Su-57 supersonic fighter, will eventually replace the currents set of Tupolev Tu 22, Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers.
According to Russian news agency TASS, a senior military-industrial complex source confirmed about the construction of the bomber under the PAK DA programme designed as a flying wing. "The production of airframe elements will be handled by one of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)’s plants; development of working design documentation is complete, material shipping has commenced. The final assembly of the entire machine should be complete in 2021," TASS quoted the source as saying.
Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko had in December 2019 told the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper that the PAK DA project had got the necessary clearance following which the Tupolev Design Bureau started the work on the future strategic bomber.
The PAK DA bomber will use the latest technologies and materials to reduce its radar signature, making it invisible to the enemy. However, the bomber will be subsonic but will be configured to carry all the air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM) currently in Russian arsenal as well as hypersonic missiles like Kh-47M Kinzhal and precision-guided bombs.
The first test flight of the PAK DA bomber is likely to take place in late 2021 or early 2022. The bomber is expected to join the Russian Aerospace Force only by 2028 0r 2029 after rigorous testing and development.
While the PAK-FA programme was carried out by Sukhoi and finally culminated into Russia's first 5th Generation stealth fighter Su-57. the major PAK DA project is with Tupolev Design Bureau and so the bomber is likely to carry the Tu designation.
Russian Aerospace Force started taking the delivery of Sukhoi Su-57 fighters in late 2019 after ordering 76 fighters. The Su-57 was combat tested in Syria in 2018 and 2019.