According to some sources, the main reason for cancellation was lack of orders for the Project 506 variant of the Tu-144 passenger service, but this may have been merely an additional impetus to discontinue the production of an aircraft that had already been nearly scrapped by the end of 1977. The Tu-144S was never intended for military transport, but rather as a new generation of flat-floor medium-range jet aircraft with the hardest payload. Moreover, by 1980 the demand for light lifting jets had begun to wane, so the Tu-144S would have had a limited use in civilian passenger service. It had been designed as the lightest general-purpose light aircraft in the Soviet Union at 35 tonnes, but ended up heavier than the final production D model.
The design of the Tu-144 was originally split into two phases. The passenger version (870), as well as the trainer variant (80V) were designed concurrently with the motorglider, which later performed test flights and the prototypes. The design process was weakened by the June 1978 decision to discontinue production of the Tu-144S model. This decision upset the blast radius that had been planned for “Project 104200” (the Russian military designation for the Tu-144S), as the new business plan for the Russian Tu-144 completely lacked its previous double-product focus. Scheduled civil and military service of the Tu-144 was scheduled to begin in 1979 with two flights per week of the Tu-144D manned by Arkhangelsk Avia pilots with the operational version designated Tu-144S. Aviation Engineer Nikolai Nikolajev has pointed out that the decision to discontinue production of the Tu-144S was in part in response to the unsecure supply of silver.
It was the most well-known Soviet supersonic passenger aircraft and can be found in museums worldwide. The aircraft was based on the Tu-144SR, a stretched and modified Tu-144 with a 5949 lb retractable nose weight and an increased fuel capacity of 63,100 lb (29,300 kg), compared to 462,900 lb (219,160 kg) for the commercial version Tu-144. A variant named Tu-144SV was developed with a more powerful engine and indigenous design features (see section Development of the Tu-144). A total of 16 Tu-144SRs were built in East Germany around 1977, five more in 1979, and another six in 1980. 7211a4ac4a