Having designed many of the stealth bombers that are currently being used by Russia, Tupolev Design Bureau was the natural choice for the country’s new proposal. The Pak-Da will be a strategic bomber meant to revolutionise wartime aviation. The meaning of Pak-Da is aviation complex for long range aviation and the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, in a television announcement made reference to the fact that this will be an entirely new design of stealth bomber, which is being created to replace both the turbo-powered Tupolev Tu-95 and supersonic Tupolev Tu-160.
Aircrafts that are used in war are frequently upgraded, as our technology gets more advanced. The aim of the Russians in developing the Pak-Da is to keep up with and even surpass the US military, focusing specifically on their B-21 stealth bomber design. In April 2013, the design was finalised and the construction of a prototype began. If everything goes according to the country’s plan, the prototype’s first flight is expected in 2019. Production of the aircrafts that the country will use should then begin in 2020, and be fully integrated into the military between 2025 and 2030.
Even though the bomber’s full design has yet to be revealed and will probably remain vague until the prototype is completed, a few of its components have been shared. In March 2013 the Russians announced that the aircraft’s design would include a subsonic flying wing, meaning that the bomber would be able to fly at subsonic speeds as well as use advanced types of supersonic speed, including hypersonic. This would allow the Pak-Da to arrive at any place in earth’s atmosphere within two hours.
Other aspects of the bomber’s design, continuously curvature shapes and radar absorbent outer materials, will enable the aircraft to fly into space from the upper atmosphere. This will mean that two engines and two fuel tanks will be necessary, in order to facilitate the transition from earth to outer space. One of the current engines being used is a variant of the NK-32 (used on the Tu 160), a suitable design, which will facilitate the burning of jet fuel in earth’s atmosphere where the Pak-Da will use oxygen to fly. When the aircraft has entered space it will make the shift to using its own oxidiser, and will then be propelled by oxygen and methane.
Other features that may be included in the design are:
- The ability to fly outside the range of any interceptor
- A combat radius of 3500 km
- A loaded weight of between 100-120 tonnes
- The use of avionics
- A 30 tonne weapons payload
- A range of 6740 nautical miles
The Russians seem to have thought of everything that will make the Pak-Da surpass any other stealth bomber currently available, and with the help of the Tupolev Design Bureau they are well on their way to achieving this.