Equipping Tu-22M3 jets with new long range cruise missiles will turn them into multifunctional strike machines.
Soon Russian supersonic jets Tu-22M3 be equipped with unique long range cruise missiles, according to Russian Izvestiya media outlet. The new missiles are currently awaiting tests, having received 9A4150 index number and designated article 715. They will be able to accurately hit targets within range of several thousand kilometers. The Tu-22s currently use X-22/32 supersonic cruise missiles with the actual range of one thousand kilometers.
According to experts, new cruise missiles will turn Tu-22M3 into multifunctional strike machines, which will be able to destroy anti-air defense systems and destroy strategic objects from long range.
The modernised Tu-22M3s will use the new article 715 aviation missile, which uses a TRDD-50 family engine. This would make the new missile’s capabilities similar to 3M-54 Kalibr and X-101 cruise missiles.
Why would you need a new cruise missile? X-101 cruise missiles proved themselves to be exceedingly efficient in Syria. They even became the main weapon of not only supersonic strategic Tu-160 bombers, but also Tu-95MC turboprop bombers. Why not just adapt the X-101 for Tu-22M3?
“You have to use cruise missiles en masse against an enemy with strong anti-air defense systems,” independent military expert Anton Lavrov told Izvestiya. “The more missiles in a salvo, the more of them will break through and hit the targets. The problem with Tu-22M3 is that they can only carry cruise missiles under their wings and the fuselage. The missiles would harm the aerodynamics of the jet. The more missiles under the wings, the stronger the air drag. The stronger the air drag, the shorter the possible flight range, and flight range is a critical factor for Tu-22M3, as their aerial refueling systems were dismantled back in the 80s. Carrying missiles this way would also prevent Tu-22M3 from “dropping” while going at supersonic speeds, which is important for jet’s self defense against long-range interceptors.
According to military historian Dmitry Boltenkov, Tu-22M3 will turn into unique multifunctional machines thanks to the new cruise missiles. “Here’s a possible scenario. A squad of Tu-22M3s takes off for a sortie. Each of them has two X-32 missiles under their wings and the “revolvers” with article 715 under the fuselages. First they’d fire the cruise missiles. They hit aviation bases, positions, radars and anti-air defense systems command nodes. Next the bombers approach and fire the more powerful X-32s. Tu-22M3 with 9-a-5015 will be very handy for fighting terrorists. They’d be able to make extremely accurate hits like their Tu-95MC and Tu-160 “older brothers.”
Currently there are approximately 80 long range Tu-22M3 bombers employed by the Russian Aerospace Forces. They are attached to two squads and one squadron.