In search of a really economically successful Tu-144, the Tupolev company re-engined one of the series T-144 with the very interesting Koliesov RD36-51A non-afterburning engines, more fuel and structural improvements. One aircraft (CCCP-77105) was converted, followed by five production models. A real step ahead in performances, this variant was nevertheless cancelled due to the tragic lost of a production machine (CCCP-77111) in 1978 and a radical change of policy. The Soviet supersonic dream was over.
The RD36-51 has a very distinctive nozzle design with its cropped translating centerbody. This feature was employed to adjust the cross-section area.