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8 photos of the Tu-160M2, the new long-range super bomber that Russia unveiled

Daniel Brown
Russia Tu 160M2

Russia unveiled its new Tu-160M2 Blackjack long-range super bomber on Friday -- an upgrade to the Tu-160M and original Tu-160, according to The Drive.

"While ostensibly an improved variant of the Soviet-era Tu-160, the Tu-160M2 is a new bomber in all but name," Russian media said, according to The Aviationist.

The new Blackjack is expected to make its maiden flight in 2018 and go into mass production in 2021.

Its full capabilities are therefore still unknown -- but here's what we know so far:

Russia unveiled the new Tu-160M2 White Swan -- codenamed Blackjack by NATO -- on Thursday.

Source: airforce-technology.com, The Drive

It's an upgrade to the Tu-160M, which entered Russian service in 2014. The original Tu-160 first entered Soviet service in 1987.

The Tu-160 is often compared to the US' B-1B Lancer.

Here's more on the B-1B Lancer.

It's full capabilities are still unknown, but other than keeping the same frame, it will reportedly be a much different aircraft.

In 2015, Russian media reported that the new Blackjack would share 60% of its components with the older version.

You can find a full list of the original Tu-160's specifications here, and the Tu-160M modifications here.

Source: The National Interest

It will reportedly have a new engine -- four of the NK-32 02 series seen below -- which will add 600 miles to its flying range.

The original engine on the Tu-160 -- the NK-32 -- is already a powerful engine, providing 55,000 lbs of thrust. The B-1B Lancer, on the other hand, only generates about 31,000 pounds of thrust.

Source: The Drive, The Aviationist

It will also reportedly have new avionics, sensors, and communications equipment.

Source: The Drive, The Aviationist

Including improved inertial, satellite, and astro-navigation equipment. An active electronically scanned array radar will be to able to detect targets at longer ranges and with better accuracy.

Source: The Drive

It will also most likely be fitted with a new KRET defensive suite.

The new defensive suite might possibly have any combination of better infrared countermeasures, solid-state lasers, or beams of electromagnetic radiation to take out incoming missiles.

Source: The Drive, KRET

The new Tu-160M2 will probably be used for the same kind of missions as the older Tu-160M version, and carry the same Kh-101 and nuclear Kh-102 cruise missiles.

Source: The Drive

Russia hopes to buy at least 50 of the new Tu-160M2s.

Source: The Drive

Below is a video of the new Blackjack rolling out of the hanger.

View this content at Business Insider