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Russia‘s ‘Blackjacks‘ fly again


Jason Jarvis

Here‘s how Vladimir Putin is making use of the "peace dividend." Of course every country has the right to defend itself, and I suppose reactivating Tu-160s could be interpreted as a response to BMD, but it makes a strong statement about Russia‘s intended position in the world. Perhaps the Russian bear is stirring again. . . .


Russia‘s ‘Blackjacks‘ fly again

The Tu-160, Russia‘s chief long-range jet bomber, has flown for the first time since the entire fleet was grounded after a crash last autumn.

Russian Channel One TV news showed two of the swing-wing aircraft, the largest bomber in the world, taking off at Engels air force base in Saratov region on Friday.

Codenamed "Blackjack" by NATO, the supersonic Tupolev Tu-160 was designed during the Cold War to strike distant targets deep behind enemy lines with nuclear or conventional weapons.

Unlike most other Russian military aircraft types, the Blackjack has not been sold abroad to other air forces.

In 1999-2000, Ukraine handed Russia its entire fleet of some eight Blackjacks, inherited after the break-up of the USSR, as part of a debt repayment deal.

The commander-in-chief of Russia‘s air forces, Vladimir Mikhaylov, told Russian news agencies this week the cause of last year‘s crash - rising pressure in the wing fuel tanks - had been established and new recommendations drawn up. The plane‘s crew of four were killed.

Mr Mikhaylov said the long-range bombers would take part in joint Russian-US exercises over the North Atlantic in 2004.

During the period the fleet was grounded the planes received extensive equipment and flight systems upgrades, commander Major-General Anatoliy Zhikharev told the television.

From the BBC.


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Sounds like they were grounded because of a crash...the investigation is over so they have been reactivated, I don‘t see how that could be seen as a reaction to the propsed shield.