Russian Tu-160 and American B-1B are very similar: Who copied whom?

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The supersonic strategic bomber Tu-160, developed by the Russian Tupolev Design Bureau, and the supersonic strategic bomber B-1B, developed by Rockwell International in the United States, are two of the world’s leading supersonic strategic bomber.

These two strategic bombers are the backbone of the strategic strike forces of the Russian Air Force and the United States Air Force, as well as the “face” of strategic bombers of Russia and the United States.

Tu-160 and B-1B have many common features. Besides the fact that they are both supersonic strategic bombers, in many aspects they also have many similar features, among which the most controversial is the appearance: both the Tu-160 and the B-1B have a variable sweep wing, a cross-shaped tail and four launch panels. Seen from above, both aircraft are extremely similar: the Tu-160 is similar to the large V-1B model, or the V-1B can be called a small version of the Tu-160.

This led to numerous disputes among those interested in military affairs: some claimed that the Tu-160 is copying the B-1B, others said that this B-1B is a copy of the Tu-160, and these disputes still do not subside.

If you look at the development time, it’s hard to say exactly who copied whom. According to information from Russia, a test model of the Tu-160 strategic bomber was created in 1969, preliminary design was completed in 1972, the project was frozen in 1977, and the full-scale model was completed in the same year. Four years later, in 1981, the first test model of the Tu-160 strategic bomber made its first flight.

The B-1A, a prototype of the B-1B strategic bomber, was also created in 1969. In 1970, Rockwell International handed over the design concept to the US Air Force, and Boeing and General Dynamics also presented similar projects in the same time period.

The B-1A prototype was completed in 1971, and the first test sample was successfully launched at the end of December 1974. After the B-1A prototype defeated the Boeing and General Dynamics models, it successfully received an order from the U.S. Air Force, but later the Air Force asked Rockwell International to upgrade the B-1A.

The improved B-1B prototype was first demonstrated and made its first flight in 1983. After that, the next year he was officially launched into serial production.

From the point of view of specific design features, the Tu-160 and B-1B do not quite coincide. Prior to the development of the Tu-160, the Soviet design bureau Tupolev successfully developed the Tu-22 supersonic bomber with a variable sweep wing, and after that the same design bureau successfully completed the development of the Tu-144 supersonic passenger aircraft.

To some extent, the Tu-160 strategic bomber is a combination of characteristics of the Tu-22 and Tu-144, which combines the results of bureau studies in the field of large supersonic aircraft and has many unique designs, such as, for example, the use of a vertical tail and ailerons in Tu -160 for yaw control, while in V-1B the traditional rudder is responsible for this, and the variable sweep wing has no ailerons.

Thus, in a dispute about the external similarity of the Tu-160 and B-1B, one cannot give a convincing and simple answer to the question of who copied whom. We can only say that the development in the field of weapons and equipment of both countries in the same period came to the same goals in different ways.

For example, strategic transport aircraft have high wings, a T-shaped tail and a suspended wing type, and the design is generally the same for all four subsequent releases.

Another example is the strategic invisible bombers, which are currently being developed in various countries, and they all have a “flying wing” design, which is basically similar to the design of the B-2 model.

There are many more such examples in the field of armaments and equipment. Therefore, it’s not so easy to determine who is copying from whom.


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