Is Russia working on a supersonic aircraft based on the bomber Tu-160? And is it planning a business jet or a commercial aircraft? Now there are clear answers.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin expressed his enthusiasm in 2018 after a test flight of the supersonic bomber Tupolev Tu-160. He said that he sees an opportunity for a civilian variant. Although it is now clear that Russia would rather build a business jet with supersonic propulsion, the statement from 2018 still causes confusion.
When asked about this, Anatoly Serdyukov, head of aviation at state-owned corporation Rostec, clarifies in an interview with broadcaster RBC: «It is a strategic bomber. How are you supposed to build a passenger plane on its basis?» That is not possible, he said, because military aircraft have far too many peculiarities. Moreover, it would not meet international requirements for noise protection and emissions. A completely new development would be required.
First promising developments
What Putin meant was that one could build on Tupolev’s experience, for example with the engines, said Serdyukov. It had gained experience with both the Tu-160 and the Concorde competitor Tu-144. Knowledge coming from Sukhoi and the MiG fighter jet series is also valuable for such a new development.
Russian supersonic research is centered around the Aerohydrodynamic Institute Tsagi. However, Serdyukov said that the first promising developments for the next supersonic generation were also put together by the UAC aviation consortium, which includes Tupolev, Sukhoi and Irkut.
Demand for 400 aircraft expected
The manager makes it clear that you really want to develop a business jet. «The costs of supersonic flight are much higher than those of conventional aircraft.» Therefore, Serdyukov says, the company is targeting business jets. According to international forecasts, there is a demand for about 400 supersonic business jets with a total value of 30 to 50 billion dollars. «There is a niche and it is quite significant.»