Putin hails upgraded Russian strategic bomber

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Putin hails upgraded Russian strategic bomber
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks to employees as he visits an aircraft making plant in Kazan, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. Putin watched a demonstration flight of a Tu-160 strategic bomber and met with workers. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says modernized strategic bombers will boost the nation’s military power.

Speaking on a visit to an aircraft-making plant in Kazan Thursday, Putin said the revamped version of the Soviet-designed Tu-160 bomber features new engines and avionics that would significantly enhance its capability.

The Russian leader attended the signing of a 160-billion-ruble (about .9-billion) contract that will see the delivery of 10 such planes to the Russian air force.

He said the upgraded bomber is a “serious step in the development of high-tech industries and strengthening the nation’s defense capabilities.”

The four-engine supersonic bomber developed in the 1980s is the largest combat plane in the world. During Russia’s campaign in Syria, the military used the Tu-160s to launch log-range cruise missiles at militant targets.