Topic: Soviet Union/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history

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Tupolev Tu-144

Aviation Soviet Union Russia Russia/technology and engineering in Russia Military history Military history/Military aviation Aviation/aircraft project Military history/Cold War Russia/Russian, Soviet, and CIS military history Military history/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history Russia/history of Russia Aviation/Soviet aviation Soviet Union/Russian, Soviet and CIS military history

The Tupolev Tu-144 (Russian: Tyполев Ту-144; NATO reporting name: Charger) is a retired jet airliner and commercial supersonic transport aircraft (SST). It was the world's first commercial SST (maiden flight – 31 December 1968), the second being the Anglo-French Concorde (maiden flight – 2 March 1969). The design was a product of the Tupolev design bureau, headed by Alexei Tupolev, of the Soviet Union and manufactured by the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association in Voronezh, Russia. It conducted 102 commercial flights, of which only 55 carried passengers, at an average service altitude of 16,000 metres (52,000 ft) and cruised at a speed of around 2,000 kilometres per hour (1,200 mph) (Mach 1.6).

The prototype's first flight was made on 31 December 1968, near Moscow from Zhukovsky Airport, two months before the first flight of Concorde. The Tu-144 first went supersonic on 5 June 1969 (Concorde first went supersonic on 1 October 1969), and on 26 May 1970 became the world's first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. The aircraft used a new construction technique which resulted in large unexpected cracks, which resulted in several crashes. A Tu-144 crashed in 1973 at the Paris Air Show, delaying its further development. The aircraft was introduced into commercial service on 26 December 1975. In May 1978, another Tu-144 (an improved version, the Tu-144D) crashed on a test flight while being delivered. The aircraft remained in use as a cargo aircraft until 1983, when the Tu-144 commercial fleet was grounded. The Tu-144 was later used by the Soviet space program to train pilots of the Buran spacecraft, and by NASA for supersonic research until 1999, when the Tu-144 made its last flight (26 June 1999).

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