Forty years of Blackjack

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

On November 25, 1981, an American spy satellite transmitted unclear images of a large bomber, with variable geometry wings, parked at the Ramenskoye Experimental Center, near Moscow. From the comparison with two Tupolev Tu-144 located nearby, Pentagon analysts deduced that the new aircraft was much larger than the Tupolev Tu-22M. Backfire.

The maiden flight took place on December 18, 1981, as it was the largest fighter plane in history, the Tu-160 Blackjack, of course, it also had to have a high range with a very heavy war load. This would have allowed him to fly over the entire North American airspace, starting directly from the bases in the Soviet Union, without requiring much refueling in flight.

It was speculated that the Blackjack penetrated the enemy airspace by flying at low altitude, with the wings at minimum arrow, with an automatic flight control using active moving surfaces.

Upon its appearance in the Soviet arsenal, this huge bomber aroused quite a few concerns in NATO.

Il Blackjack it has a range - without refueling - of 7.300 km, with a speed between Mach 1,5 and 1,6.

Officially, the date of entry into service of the bomber in the Vozdušno-Kosmičeskie Sily (Air Force) of the Russian Federation is December 30, 2005, as until 1999 the Blackjack they had remained in Ukraine.

Currently, the VKS have 16 aircraft, all of which are framed in the 121st heavy bomber regiment of the Engels base.

In the 2015 i Blackjack they were first used in combat, firing Kh-101 missiles at Islamic State installations in Syria.

In the following years they were repeatedly used in this type of missions, starting from the base of Engels, in southwestern Russia, with the launch of the Kh-101 (maximum range over 2.000 km) over the Caspian Sea or Iran and return to the base.

Photo: Russian Federation MoD