As part of scheduled training flights, Russian Long-Range Aviation crews completed the tasks of refueling aircraft in airspace. In particular, the pilots of the Tu-160 strategic bombers have worked out refueling from the Il-78 tanker aircraft. The aircraft took off from different home airfields. During the flights, the crews of the Tu-160 strategic bombers performed aerial refueling at an altitude of more than 6,000 meters and a speed of about 600 kilometers per hour, air patrols in a given zone, and also performed tactical missile launches at specified targets. In total, five Tu-160 and Il-78 aircraft were involved in the exercise. In addition, more than 30 units of automotive and special equipment were involved.
The Tupolev Tu-160 (NATO reporting name: Blackjack) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. It is the largest and heaviest Mach 2+ supersonic military aircraft ever built and next to the experimental XB-70 Valkyrie in overall length. As of 2021, it is the largest and heaviest combat aircraft, the fastest bomber in use and the largest and heaviest variable-sweep wing airplane ever flown. Entering service in 1987, the Tu-160 was the last strategic bomber designed for the Soviet Union. The Tu-160 active fleet has been undergoing upgrades to electronics systems since the early 2000s.
On 16 November 2017, a newly assembled Tu-160, built from an unfinished Tu-160 airframe, was unveiled during a roll-out ceremony at KAPO, signifying a restoration of certain production technologies such as electron-beam welding or titanium work reportedly lost after the termination of serial production in 1992. According to Dmitri Rogozin, the serial production of completely new airframes for the modernized Tu-160M2 should begin in 2019 with deliveries to the Russian Air Force in 2023. It performed its first public flight on 25 January 2018, during president Vladimir Putin’s visit to KAPO plant. The same day, a contract for ten upgraded Tu-160M2 bombers was signed.