“I think the first models of the Prospective Air Complex for Long Range Aviation (PAK DA) will be supplied to the Air Force approximately by 2020,” Chernyayev said in a statement on the Russian Defense Ministry website, reported by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The aircraft is very-much in development, and a prototype has not been built yet. Tupolev Design Bureau has a design worked out, however, Chernyayev said.
“We have everything today to develop the plane on time and put it into operation together with (the) Tu-95MS Bear, Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-22M3 Backfire, which have proven their high reliability,” he added. The PAK DA will be based on the Tu-160 “Blackjack” supersonic strategic bomber. It will eventually replace the “Blackjack” and the venerable turboprop Tu-95 “Bear.” According to RIA Novosti, Russia operates 63 Tu-95MS variants and 13 Tu-160s. The Tu-160 is the largest combat aircraft in the world.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the ramp-up of the PAK DA development in June.
“I know how expensive and complex this is,” Putin said during a conference on defense orders. “The task is not easy from a scientific-technical standpoint, but we need to start work.” Putin said he is worried Russia will “miss the boat” if it does not act quickly.
Russia and the U.S. are the only countries in the world that operate intercontinental bombers. The U.S. has its own next generation bomber program to replace its B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers.