Russia is claiming a pair of their supersonic bombers recently set a world record for longest non-stop flight.
According to the Russian TASS news agency, the Tupelov Tu-160 bombers - known in NATO as Blackjack - set a new record for distance and duration by flying more than 25 hours and covering a distance of more than 20,000 kilometers, about 12,500 miles.
“Nobody has flown this type of aircraft longer,” Russian Lt. Gen. Sergey Kobylash told reporters over the weekend.
The supersonic bombers took off and later landed at Engels Air Base in southeastern Russia. They flew over what Russian officials said were neutral waters of the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, Shukchi and Barents Seas. The flight was conducted in “strict compliance with internal airspace rules,” TASS said.
The Tu-160 bombers were fueled in flight three times by six IL-78 tankers. They were accompanied along parts of their route by Su-35S jet fighters, Russian defense officials said.
The previous record was set in 2010 by Tu-160 bombers that had been in the air for more than 24 hours, TASS said.
Russian defense officials identified the commanders of the two bombers at Maj. Gen. Oleg Pchela and Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Volkovitskys.