Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Russia's Next Bomber

She's a hypersonic super fine bombing machine - radar avoiding with a ganksta lean.
Commonwealth Russia be like all working on her next generation bomber - the PAK DA
The PAK-DA, which literally means "prospective aviation complex for long-range aviation," is Russia's next generation long-range bomber project and it aims to one day replace the Tu-95 Bear and the Tu-160 Blackjack, and possibly the Tu-22M Backfire fleets. Much like America's next generation bomber, which has gone from a very high-end concept to one with more limited goals over the last decade, mainly due to affordability concerns, the PAK-DA has also lowered its performance and capabilities expectations, although to an even greater degree over a similar span of time.
Originally, the jet was supposed to be not only stealthy but insanely fast, with officials stating at one time that it would be a "hypersonic aircraft." Even if this was embellishment or some sort of misstatement, it was clear that originally the PAK-DA was meant to super-cruise at high mach speeds. This requirement has now changed drastically as it is now confirmed that the PAK-DA will be a subsonic aircraft, with a design more focused on long-range and heavily payload lifting capabilities than anything else.
A blended wing-body design, loosely similar to NASA's X-48, appears to be the result of this change in design focus. With this in mind, the PAK-DA may have similar design trade-offs as Russia's other major next generation combat aircraft, the PAK-FA, also known as the Sukhoi T-50 fighter.
The legendary Tupolev Design Bureau is said to have finalized the PAK-DA's design early last year according, at least according to Mikhail Pogosyan, the head of Russia's quasi state-ran super aerospace holding company, known as the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Basic stats for Russia's subsonic new bomber are still not totally certain, but an empty weight of around 125 tons with an additional 30 ton payload and range of around 7,500 miles seems to be roughly what the new design is shooting for.
 Target date for a first flight and entrance into service was announced last May by Lieutenant General Viktor "Skippy" Bondarev:

"The maiden flight should be performed in 2019... State tests and supplies will be completed in 2023, after which the aircraft will begin to enter service."


Currently, the NK-32s fitted aboard Russia's Tu-160s are said to put out a whopping 31,000lbs of thrust at full military power and a staggering 55,000lbs of thrust in full afterburner. An updated turbofan design, called the NK-32 Tier 2, will not feature the Blackjack's powerful afterburners, but it will utilize the NK-32's core and will focus on upping the engine's military, or 'dry' thrust, while also aiming to improve its fuel economy.
Even if Russia's timeline goals for its new bomber seem optimistic and the aircraft actually enters service later than envisioned, say around 2030, it will still be a major accomplishment.