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MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Air Force has approved the conceptual design and specification of its future PAK-DA strategic bomber, paving the way for development of components for the aircraft, Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Thursday.
“The development of the aircraft is going as planned. 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,” Bondarev said at a meeting with Russian lawmakers.
The PAK-DA (meaning future long-range aircraft) project has been in the works for several years but was given the formal go-ahead by the Russian leadership last year. It is due to replace Russia’s aging fleet of 63 Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear and 13 Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers in the next decade.
According to recent reports in the Russian media, citing defense ministry sources, the Tupolev design bureau has won the PAK-DA development tender with its concept for a subsonic aircraft with a “flying wing” shape which provides superior “stealth capabilities.”
The Defense Ministry insisted that the PAK-DA should be equipped with advanced electronic warfare systems and armed with new nuclear-capable long-range cruise missiles in addition to a veriety of high-precision conventional weapons.
The new bomber is expected to go in production by 2020 and will be built at a new aircraft assembly line at Russia's Kazan plant (KAPO), according to defense ministry officials. The same plant previously built the Tu-95MS and Tu-160.
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If attempts to drag Russia into a direct military conflict in Ukraine are successful, it would be a catastrophe for Russia comparable to the 1979-1989 Afghan war. There is no direct evidence that the US is trying to bring about a second Afghan war, but indirect evidence abounds.