Upgraded to New M3M Standard, Tu-22 Takes to Sky in August

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Written by Andrei Akulov; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

The Tu-22M3M variant of the Tu-22, a supersonic variable-sweep wing bomber, is to make its maiden flight in August and enter into service in October. The Russian Air Force operates 62 Tu-22M3s. Some of the planes have carried out combat missions in Syria. According to the plans that have been announced, 30 TU-22M3s will have been modernized to meet the M3M standard by 2020. This aircraft is not classified as a heavy bomber and therefore is not covered by the New START treaty.

Upgraded to New M3M Standard, Tu-22 Takes to Sky in August

This far-reaching upgrade includes improved avionics, a new communications suite, an updated weapon-control system, digital radio-navigation equipment, and the ability to attack surface and sea targets with long-range precision-guided weapons.

It has the following specifications: a maximum speed of 2,300 km/h; a cruising speed of 900 km/h; an operating ceiling of 13,000 m; a maximum altitude of 14,000 m; a rate of climb of 15m/s; an operational range of 7,000 km (10,000 km with air refueling); an empty weight of 53,500 kg; a maximum takeoff weight of 126,400 kg; and a crew of 4. The pressurized cockpit is fitted with climate-control systems. The plane is powered by two NK-25 turbofan engines with large air intakes and dual exhausts. Each engine produces a maximum thrust of 25,000 kg. With its tricycle gear, the aircraft can land on unprepared runways.

The armament suite includes a Kh-32 long-range, multi-purpose missile specifically designed to attack US Navy carrier strike groups with a nuclear or conventional 500-kilogram (1,102 lb) warhead. It can hit land targets as well. The list of enemy assets it is capable of knocking out includes radar equipment, large vessels, bridges, power stations, command posts, and other military installations. Equipped with an inertial navigation system and a radio-radar seeker, it need not depend on satellites for guidance, making it immune to jamming.

The missile flies along a unique trajectory, climbing to the stratosphere (40 kilometers) after launch and then either going straight down to hit the target or executing a shallower dive in order to approach it flying as low as five meters above the surface. At such a low altitude the Kh-32 cannot be detected by radar until it is only about 10 km away, leaving a reaction window of approximately 10 seconds. Fast and maneuverable, air-defense systems have little opportunity to fend it off. The SM-6 surface-to-air-missile (SAM), America’s best air-defense tool, is useless against the Kh-32.

It has an operational range of up to 1,000 kilometers and a maximum speed of 5,400 kilometers per hour (1,500 meters per second) during the terminal phase of its flight.

The Tu-22M3M can carry three KH-32s (weighing about six tons each) or 12 of the lighter Kh-15 missiles. The Raduga Kh-15 is an air-to-surface hypersonic aero-ballistic weapon with an operational range of 300 km. The aircraft will be able to carry six to eight Kh-SD medium-range (up to 2,000 km) cruise missiles, and there are plans to develop and produce it under the auspices of Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018–27 (GPV-2027).

Its payload is also made up of FAB-250 or FAB-1500 free-fall bombs. The aircraft is armed with a double-barreled GSH-23 (23 mm) gun installed in the remotely controlled tail turret.

The Tu-22M3M uses the SVP-24 all-weather special computing subsystem for precise guidance. The GLONASS satellite navigation system constantly compares the position of the plane and the target. The SVP-24 measures environmental parameters to correct the flight. Information is received from all datalinks to compute its flight envelope. There are enough sensors to enable targeting even if the GLONASS receivers are jammed. With fire-and–forget guidance in place, the pilot can concentrate on countering threats and finding new targets to hit.

Currently Russia’s strategic aviation fleet is undergoing an extensive revamping. The modernization of the Tu-160 supersonic strategic heavy bombers is underway and due to be complete by 2030, along with the Tu-22M3M upgrade. The Russian Air Force’s ability to attack enemy assets as an element of conventional, not nuclear, warfare will be greatly expanded. The conventional strike capability of its armed forces is to be augmented by adding relatively low-cost multipliers to their existing arsenal of conventional offensive long-range weapons. This will significantly enhance its power projection capability. The conflict in Syria has been a good example of this. The successful updates to Russia’s long-range aviation forces illustrate the ability of the Russian defense industry to meet the challenges of today.

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  • PZIVJ

    Surprised to see this old bird still active.
    TU-22 also known as the “Blinder”

    • Tudor Miron

      Why? This birds airframe is very good and capable. M3 version proved very effective in Syria.

      • Siegfried

        I knew that NATO called this bomber TU-22M ” Backfire” because of its RADAR-controlled long-range, very powerful board-canon, placed in the tail of the bomber.
        ?? Maybe somebody from the Air-Force could tell more about. (Not you, little John White-Redneck, go play with your AR-15 and STFU)

    • Daniel Castro

      How? Almost every month there are videos of tu22 pounding the ziojihad scum in Syria.

      • Siegfried

        “Almost every month”… of the last year and as Putin bombed Erdogan’s OIL and human organs trafficking from ISIS-Syria to North-Eastern-Turkey to break him … and to make the pYg “his new best friend” (sic!)
        Since Bibi and Putin seem to be very COZY to another, it became rather quiet over Syria from Russian side, only Israelis attack ASSAD troops and their Allies, Hezbollah and the Iranians….. and the Americans bring supplies / for them and the ISIS-garbqge “converted” to “Democratic Forces” ( or how TF they call themselves now!) using their two new and illegally BASES in the NE of the Syrian territory.

        • Daniel Castro

          Well, even with less russian involvemente Assad is winning the war… and it wasn’t supposed to be like that?! Russia intervened to help him because he was losing, now he is winning, so there is no real reason for Russia to endanger their own military even more.

          And even then every now and then we hear news about deaths in russian military on Syria, which means they are still fighting alongside SAA, but on a low profile.

    • Siegfried

      .. But not surprised to see the B-52 still active? ;) Or T-95 ( a kind of B-29 improved, Stalin’s Era)

      • John Whitehot

        “Or T-95 ( a kind of B-29 improved”

        bullshit beyond the unimaginable.

        • Siegfried

          Go read a book, you infatuated a##hole.
          “The design bureau, led by Andrei Tupolev, designed the Soviet Union’s first intercontinental bomber, the 1949 Tu-85, a scaled-up version of the Tu-4, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress copy.[“..
          Now every illiterate American comes here and plays the Avionic-master-chief.

          • John Whitehot

            no really, when did you discover that books are for reading them and not to be used as doorstops?

            you fucking analphabet go whine about Putin instead of talking about bombers, which you can’t distinguish from aircraft carriers.

          • Daniel Castro

            Well, being an evolution of b-29 or not, the Tu-95 does the same role of the b-52 with half the fuel…

          • John Whitehot

            look, if the tu-95 is an evolution of the b-29, which is not, (unless you wanna say that every 4 engine airplane is an evolution of the B-29, then why not saying that it’s an evolution of the b-24, of the b-17 and so on) it’s more of an evolution than that between siegfrid and an ape.

          • Daniel Castro

            I meant, it doesn’t matter if it is an evolution of b-29 because it clearly does his job and cost less than his counterpart in the west. Operational cost is really a thing in the long run.

          • John Whitehot

            it’s not its evolution or counterpart and there are no ifs and buts.

            side by side comparisons are good for kindergarten kids who need an imprint of propaganda, or alternatively for congressmen who need to be convinced by the cia to give more money to the military industrial complex.

            you can’t compare operational costs of things meant to do different works, it’s like wondering if a washing machine consumes more wattage than a vacuum cleaner.

            real analysts instead start their work from “above”, which in military terms means doctrinal requirements.

          • Daniel Castro

            I understand you have an specialist perpective on the matter, but the general public actually can only understand what these planes are by roughly comparing them in the realisations of their primary roles.

            So, letting every other aspects aside, in the end both b-52 and tu-95 are strategic bombers designed to carry a nuke from point A to point B, that’s what matters for the general public.

          • John Whitehot

            I thought SF wasn’t exactly for “general public”, but I was probably wrong. But in that case, then it would probably a good thing if general public interested in military analysis start seeing things under a perspective that is not pentagon, or Felgenhauer made.

          • Daniel Castro

            Yes, it would, but problem is people think soap operas and soccer is way more important than specific knowledge about military aircraft.

          • BMWA1

            China forced landing capture of B29

          • John Whitehot

            no, b29s landed directly in the soviet union.

          • John Whitehot

            you scum can edit all your comments after i have answered, that won’t change that you learnt everything you know on pentagon released bullshit, which makes you a fucking analphabet. besides, B-29 -> Tu-4 -> TU-85 – > TU-95. Wonder why you arent saying that the TU-160 is developed from the B-29 as well.

          • Daniel Castro

            Every single airplane is an evolution of the 1907 Demoiselle, so there is really no point in his argument…

          • John Whitehot

            “his argument” is the same the pentagon has used for 50 years.
            they force people to consider only technology (and forget about capabilities, tactics, etc) and then go on like the US invented everything and the others copied them.

            the soviets copied the Tu-4 in 1945, because the war forced them to develop tactical aviation, instead of strategic. One could also argue that it wasn’t their priority to terror bomb entire cities into dust, killing civilians indiscriminately and then targeting firemen and rescue teams, as their focus was to defeat the german military and not to bomb their population into submission – but that would not be intellectually sound.

            yet the “B-29 copying” stops at the TU-4, there’s nothing in the TU-95 even rensembling the b-29, unless you don’t know the difference between turboprops and piston engines.

            It’s not even correct to compare the Tu95 to the B52, because the B52 only has had one mission in its long life, the same one performed by the B29s of ww2 – destroying cities – while the TU-95 developed into a myriad of variants going from strategic cruise carrier to maritime patrol, to persistent ASW, to over the horizon missile guiding and another dozen more.

            these people won’t give up their vulgarity even on their way out, they are in a military analysis site only to spread political shit at every opportunity and think they can get at others who chose to do their homework instead of foolilshly listen to what bullshit the pentagon or boeing has to say over a matter, even if they are the less likely source of correct information (like in the case of russian bombers)

    • John Whitehot

      negative, the Tu-22 blinder is another older airplane, which the Tu-26 (Tu-22M) has replaced.

      • PZIVJ

        My mistake. This is the TU-26 Backfire. :/
        Built to carry anti ship missiles into the N Atlantic, etc

  • Jesus

    I would like to see Tu 22 fire some Kh 32 on some viable targets in Syria for testing and evaluation purposes, and send a message to the zio axis.

  • Vitex

    126 ton take off weight and it’s not a heavy bomber?

    • Daniel Castro

      Well, you know, compared to the tu-160…

  • Rob

    One time when India was ally with Russia and Palestine so they both were going down each day while Pakistan was ally with USA and China and they both were going up each day. Now Russia and USA have swapped partners.

    Now Pakistan is allied with Russia and China and they both going up each day and India is allied with USA and Israel and they both going down each day. Now in the world there is no any other super power except Russia and China because Pakistan is ally with both Russia and China. This happened just with in short period of time.