New Russian Bomber Coming Soon, but Not So Soon

Russia plans to begin construction of its prototype PAK-DA fifth-generation bomber this year, but the targeted delivery date for the Russian air force’s first copy has already slipped three years to 2023, reported the state-run RIA Novosti. “The maiden flight should be performed in 2019. State tests and supplies will be completed in 2023,” said Russian air force chief Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev in the May 22 report. PAK-DA is being designed to penetrate and suppress modern integrated air defenses systems through some combination of stealth and a sophisticated electronic attack suite. Russian bombers have increasingly probed US and NATO airspace in recent years and sharply increased long-range flights around allied and national airspace in the Pacific, officials noted earlier this year. The Russian frontline strategic nuclear bomber force is currently comprised of 13 supersonic Tu-160 and 63 legacy Tu-95 long-range cruise missile carriers, according to the press.