An agreement was reached and a 5 million contract was signed, the value of which was deducted from Ukraine's debt for natural gas.
On 20 October 1999, a group of Russian military experts went to Ukraine to prepare the aircraft for the flight to Engels-2 air base.
The prototype was photographed by an airline passenger at a Zhukovsky Airfield in November 1981, about a month before the aircraft's first flight on 18 December 1981.
Production was authorized in 1984, beginning at the Kazan Aircraft Production Association.
According to Dmitri Rogozin, the serial production of completely new airframes for the modernized Tu-160M2 should begin in 2019 with deliveries to the Russian Air Force in 2023.
In 1992, Russia unilaterally suspended its flights of strategic aviation in remote regions.
A total of 19 Tu-160s were stationed inside the newly-independent Ukraine during the fall of the Soviet Union.
On 25 August 1991, the Ukrainian parliament decreed that the new nation would take control of all military units on its territory; a Defence Ministry was created that same day.
By the mid-1990s, the Pryluky Regiment had lost its value as a combat unit; 19 Tu-160s were effectively grounded due to a lack of technical support and spare parts.
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Squadron deployments to Long Range Aviation began that month, prior to the Tu-160 was first publicly presented in a parade in 1989.