MOSCOW — The sole Russian company that produces Tu-160M bombers has completed upgrades to three workshops, it announced June 24.

United Aircraft Corp., which owns Tupolev and the Kazan Aircraft Plant, said upgrades were done for preproduction, mechanical assembly and flight test centers.

The Kazan Aircraft Plant is the sole organization in Russia that produces Tu-160M bombers. It also upgrades Tu-22M3 and Tu-160 bombers.

The military-industrial organization KazGAP served as the design and construction lead for the facility modernizations. As part of a state program to further develop the domestic defense industry, KazGAP has since 2016 carried out work, valued at about 30 billion rubles (U.S. $340 million), to modernize 10 Kazan facilities, which is approximately three-quarters of the plant’s workshops.

The modernization effort was to be completed in 2020, but KazGAP experienced delays amid several dozen criminal cases brought against Kazan subcontractors, who were charged with fraud and embezzlement. The payment amount for the work was not modified, leaving it up to subcontractors to self-fund the remaining work.

Under a 2018 contract, the Defence Ministry is expected to receive 10 new Tu-160M bombers by 2027. So far, it has received three.

In 2019, due to financial problems, KazGAP was sold to the holding company Technodinamika, which is part of the Russian defense conglomerate Rostec. Modernization work at the plant followed.

To date, nine facilities, including the workshops of aggregate and final assembly, have received certificates of compliance and permits for commissioning. According to United Aircraft Corp., construction work related to the production of heat treatment and coating is 86% complete.

The expectation is that all the modernization work on order for the Kazan Aircraft Plant will be done this year. Meanwhile, a new upgrade project, worth more than 90 billion rubles, is set to begin to benefit the serial construction of the civil aircraft Tu-214.

Russia is currently engaging in a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and has used its bomber fleet to attack civilian areas and critical infrastructure.

Maxim Starchak is a Russia correspondent for Defense News. He previously worked as an editor for the Russian Defence Ministry and as an expert for the NATO Information Office in Moscow. He has covered Russian nuclear and defense issues for the Atlantic Council, the Center for European Policy Analysis, the Royal United Services Institute and more.

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