Putin hails upgraded Russian strategic bomber

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.