The Russian air force has approved the design and specifications of a new flying-wing type stealth bomber, which it dubs the PAK-DA, reported Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. Lt. Gen. Victor Bondarev, head of the Russian air force, told Russian lawmakers the bomber’s development “is going as planned,” according to the April 11 report. “The outline of its design and characteristics has been approved and all relevant documents have been signed, allowing the industry to start the development of systems for this plane,” he said. The Tupolev design bureau, which built most of Russia’s Cold War-era bombers, has reportedly received the contract for the PAK-DA, which will replace Russia’s aging Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers. The aircraft will have a dual-role nuclear and precision conventional mission, and feature advanced electronic warfare systems, the Russian defense ministry has said. Production is expected to begin in 2020 at the Kazan plant which assembled the Bear and Blackjack. Initial operations are projected in the 2025-2030 timeframe. Russia had hoped to build a hypersonic bomber, but has opted for the subsonic, stealthy design, potentially to be armed with hypersonic missiles. (See also Russia Moving Forward with New Bomber.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.