The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber and missile platform. It was the largest combat aircraft in the world until surpassed by the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber in 1989.
First flown in 1981 with production continuing through 1997, it remains one of Russia’s most capable weapons systems. The Tu-160 has been operated by the Russian Air Force since 1987 and 23 were built for them. A number of modified versions have also been developed, including a maritime patrol aircraft variant that can carry anti-submarine torpedoes or depth charges as well as mine sweeping gear; an airliner designated Tu-160S; and two models for space launch use.
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