Designed as Aircraft 70 under leadership of V. I. Bliznuk; prototype observed by satellite at Ramenskoye flight test centre 25 November 1981 (photograph in 1982-83 Jane's), first flew 19 December 1981; US Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci invited to inspect 12th aircraft built, at Kubinka air base, near Moscow, 2 August 1988; deliveries to 184th Regiment, Priluki air base, Ukraine, began May 1987; production at Kazan airframe plant ended 1992.
Intended for high altitude standoff role carrying ALCMs and for defence suppression, using short-range attack missiles similar to US Air Force SRAMs, along path of bomber making low altitude penetration to attack primary targets with free-fallnuclearbombs or missiles; this implies capability of subsonic cruise/supersonic dash at almost Mach 2 at 18,300 m (60,000 ft) and transonic flight at low altitude.
About 20 per cent longer than USAF B-1B, with greater unrefuelled combat radius and much higher max speed; low-mounted variable geometry wings, with very long and sharply swept fixed root panel; small diameter circular fuselage; horizontal tail surfaces mounted high on fin, upper portion of which is pivoted one-piece all-moving surface; large dorsal fin; engines mounted as widely separated pairs in underwing ducts, each with central horizontal V wedge intakes and jetpipes extending well beyond wing centre-section trailing-edge; manually selected outer wing sweepback 20 degrees , 35 degrees and 65 degrees ; when wings fully swept, inboard portion of each trailing-edge flap hinges upward and extends above wing as large fence; unswept tail fin; sweptback horizontal surfaces, with conical fairing for brake-chute aft of intersection.
Twin nosewheels retract rearward; main gear comprises two bogies, each with three pairs of wheels; retraction very like that on Tu-154 airliner; as each leg pivots rearward, bogie rotates through 90 degrees around axis of centre pair of wheels, to lie parallel with retracted leg; gear retracts into thickest part of wing, between fuselage and inboard engine on each side; so track relatively small. Nosewheel tyres size 1080 x 400 mm; mainwheel tyres size 1260 x 425 mm.
Four Samara/Trud NK-321 turbofans, each 225 kN (50,580 lb st) with afterburning. In-flight refuelling probe retracts into top of nose.
Four crew members in pairs, on individual K-36 ejection seats; one window each side of flight deck can be moved inward and rearward for ventilation on ground; flying controls use fighter type sticks rather than yokes or wheels; crew enter via nosewheel bay.
Radar in slightly upturned dielectric nosecone claimed to provide terrain following capability; fairing with flat glazed front panel, under forward fuselage, for video camera to provide visual assistance for weapon aiming; astro-inertial nav with map display; no head-up display or CRTs; active jamming self-defence system.
No guns. Internal stowage for up to 16,330 kg (36,000 lb) of free-fall bombs, short-range attack missiles or ALCMs; a rotary launcher can be installed in each of two 12.80 m (42 ft) long weapon bays, carrying 12 Kh-15P (AS-16 'Kickback') SRAMs or six Kh-55 (AS-15 'Kent') ALCMs.
Wingspan: fully spread (20 degrees): 55.70 m (182 ft 9 in) 35 degrees sweep: 50.70 m (166 ft 4 in) fully swept (65 degrees): 35.60 m (116 ft 9 3/4 in) Length overall: 54.10 m (177 ft 6 in) Height overall: 13.10 m (43 ft 0 in) Tailplane span: 13.25 m (43 ft 5 3/4 in)
WEIGHTS AND LOADINGS:
Weight empty: 110,000 kg (242,500 lb) Max fuel: 160,000 kg (352,735 lb) Max landing weight: 155,000 kg (341,710 lb) Max power loading: 280 kg/kN (2.75 lb/lb st)
PERFORMANCE: Max level speed at 12,200 m (40,000 ft): Mach 2.05 (1200 knots; 2220 km/h; 1380 mph) Cruising speed at 13,700 m (45,000 ft): Mach 0.9 (518 knots; 960 km/h; 596 mph) Max rate of climb at S/L: 4200 m (13,780 ft)/min Service ceiling: 15,000 m (49,200 ft) Max unrefuelled range: 6640 nm (12,300 km; 7640 miles) g limit: 2
LENGTH (m): 54.10 HEIGHT (m): 13.10 WINGSPAN (m): 55.70 MAX T-O WEIGHT (kg): 275,000 MAX LEVEL SPEED (knots): 1200 T-O RUN (m): 2200 LANDING RUN (m): 1600 MAX RATE CLIMB (m/min): 4200 SERVICE CEILING (m): 15,000
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