|A Russian Air Force Tu-22M3|
|Role||Strategic bomber, maritime strike|
|First flight||30 August 1969|
|Primary users||Soviet Air Force (historical)
Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
|Developed from||Tupolev Tu-22|
The Tupolev Tu-22M (Russian: Туполев Ту-22М; NATO reporting name: Backfire) is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau. Significant numbers remain in service with the Russian Air Force.
As with the contemporary MiG-23 and Su-17 projects, the advantages of variable-geometry wings seemed attractive, allowing a combination of short take-off performance, efficient cruising, and good high-speed, low-level ride. The result was a new swing-wing aircraft called Samolyot 145 (English: Aeroplane 145), derived from the Tupolev Tu-22, with some features borrowed from the abortive Tu-98. The Tu-22M was based on the Tu-22's weapon system and used its Kh-22 missile. The Tu-22M designation was used to help get approval for the bomber within the Soviet military and government system.
The Tu-22M designation was used by the Soviet Union during the SALT II arms control negotiations, creating the impression that it was a modification of the Tu-22. Some suggested that the designation was deliberately deceptive, and intended to hide the Tu-22M's performance. Other sources suggest the "deception" was internal to make it easier to get budgets approved. According to some sources, the Backfire-B/C production variants were believed to be designated Tu-26 by Russia, although this is disputed by many others. The US State and Defense Departments have used the Tu-22M designation for the Backfire.
Production of all Tu-22M variants totalled 497 including pre-production aircraft.
During the Cold War, the Tu-22M was operated by the VVS (Soviet Air Force) in a strategic bombing role, and by the AVMF (Aviatsiya Voyenno-Morskogo Flota, Soviet Naval Aviation) in a long-range maritime anti-shipping role. During the 1970s, Tu-22M made a few simulated attack runs against U.S. Navy carrier battle groups. The bomber also made attempts to test Japan's air defense boundary on several occasions. On Good Friday night, 29 March 2013, two Tu-22M3 bombers made simulated attacks on Sweden. The Swedish air defense failed to respond.
The Tu-22M was first used in combat in Afghanistan from 1987 to 1989. Its usage was similar to the United States Air Force deployment of B-52 Stratofortress bombers in the Vietnam War, dropping large tonnages of conventional ordnance. The Russian Federation used the Tu-22M3 in combat in Chechnya during 1995, performing strikes near Grozny.
The Russian military acknowledged the loss of a Tu-22MR recon aircraft to Georgian air defences early in the 2008 South Ossetia war. One of its crew members was captured (Major Vyacheslav Malkov), two others were killed and the crew commander is missing in action as of August 2009.
The Tupolev company has sought export customers for the Tu-22M since 1992, with possible customers including Iran, India and the People's Republic of China, but no sales have apparently been made. However, unlike the Tu-22 bomber, Tu-22M bombers were not exported to middle-east countries that posed a threat to US military presence in the region. Through 2001, four Tu-22M aircraft were leased to India for maritime reconnaissance and strike purposes.
In January 2013, reports emerged that China had signed a purchase agreement for the production and delivery of 36 Tu-22M3, under the Chinese designiation of H-10; many components are to be manufactured domestically in China under a technology transfer agreement with Russia and Tupolev. Sales of the Russian-built Raduga Kh-22 long-range anti-ship missile and the fleet's intended use as a maritime strike platform have also been speculated upon. However, Rosoboronexport has reportedly denied any sales or negotiations with China regarding the Tu-22M.
Only nine of the earliest Tu-22M0 pre-production aircraft were produced, followed by nine more Tu-22M1 pilot-production craft in 1971 and 1972. Its NATO reporting name was Backfire-A.
The first major production version, entering production in 1972, was the Tu-22M2 (NATO: Backfire-B), with longer wings and an extensively redesigned, area ruled fuselage (raising the crew complement to four), twin NK-22 engines (215 kN thrust each) with F-4 Phantom II-style intakes, and new undercarriage with the main landing gear in the wing glove rather than in large pods. These were armed most commonly with long-range cruise missiles/anti-ship missiles, typically one or two Raduga Kh-22 anti-shipping missiles. Some Tu-22M2s were later reequipped with more powerful NK-23 engines and redesignated Tu-22M2Ye. In service, the Tu-22M2 was known to its crews as Dvoika ('Deuce' or second).
The later Tu-22M3 (NATO: Backfire C), which first flew in 1976 and entered service in 1983, had new NK-25 engines with substantially more power, wedge-shaped intakes similar to the MiG-25, wings with greater maximum sweep, and a recontoured nose housing a new Leninets PN-AD radar and NK-45 nav/attack system, which provides much-improved low-altitude flight (although not true nap-of-the-earth flying). It had a revised tail turret with a single cannon, and provision for an internal rotary launcher for the Raduga Kh-15 missile, similar to the American AGM-69 SRAM. It was nicknamed Troika ('Trio' or third) in Russian service. Tu-22M3 has an improved thrust, maximum speed increases from Mach 1.65 to 2.05, and combat range from 5,100–6,800 km.
One topic of controversy surrounding the Tu-22M is its capacity for aerial refueling. As built, the Tu-22M has provision for a retractable in-flight refueling probe in the upper part of the nose. This was allegedly removed as a result of the SALT negotiations, although it can be easily reinstated if needed, and a pilot-production Tu-22M1 (NATO: Backfire-A) with refueling probe can be seen at Riga Airport today.
Tu-22M3M: Tu-22M3 for RuAF with upgraded avionics and the ability to use precision weapons air-to-surface. Prior to 2020 is planned to upgrade 30 Tu-22M3, setting them on a new hardware component base and adapted to the extended range weapons.
- Russian Air Force – 93 in service as of December 2010.
- Russian Naval Aviation – 58 in use as of December 2010.
- Crew: 4 (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, weapon systems operator)
- Length: 42.4 m (139 ft 4 in)
- Spread (20° sweep): 34.28 m (112 ft 6 in)
- Swept (65° sweep): 23.30 m (76 ft 6 in)
- Height: 11.05 m (36 ft 3 in)
- Wing area:
- Spread: 183.6 m² (1,976 ft²)
- Swept: 175.8 m² (1,892 ft²)
- Empty weight: 54,000 kg (119,000 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 124,000 kg (273,000 lb) ; 126,400 kg (278,700 lb) for rocket assisted TO
- Powerplant: 2 × Kuznetsov NK-25 turbofans, 245.2 kN (55,100 lbf) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.88 (2,000 km/h, 1,240 mph) ; at altitude
- Range: 6,800 km (4,200 mi, 3,700 nmi)
- Combat radius: 2,410 km (1,500 mi, 1,300 nmi)with typical weapons load
- Service ceiling: 13,300 m (43,600 ft)
- Rate of climb: 15 m/s (91 ft/s)
- Wing loading: 688 kg/m² (147 lb/ft²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.40
- Guns: 1 × 23-mm GSh-23 cannon in remotely controlled tail turret
- Hardpoints: wing and fuselage pylons and internal weapons bay with a capacity of 24,000 kg (53,000 lb) of
- Up to 3 × Raduga Kh-22 missiles in weapons bay and on wing pylons or
- Up to 6 × Raduga Kh-15 missiles on a MKU-6-1 rotary launcher in its bomb bay, plus 4 × Raduga Kh-15 missiles on two underwing pylons for a total of 10 missiles per aircraft.
- Various freefall bombs – 69 × FAB-250 or 8 × FAB-1500 might be typical.
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tupolev Tu-22M.|
- Tu-22M3 page on airwar.ru (Russian)
- Tu-22M entry at Globalsecurity.org
- Tu-22M photos at Airliners.net