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Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire

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The Tupolev Tu-22M (Russian: Туполев Ту-22М; NATO reporting name: Backfire) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau. According to some sources, the bomber was believed to be designated Tu-26 at one time. During the Cold War, the Tu-22M was operated by the Soviet Air Force (VVS) in a strategic bombing role, and by the Soviet Naval Aviation (Aviacija Vojenno-Morskogo Flota, AVMF) in a long-range maritime anti-shipping role. Significant numbers remain in service with Russia, China and India, and as of 2014 nearly 200 Tu-22Ms are in use.

Variants[edit]

  • Tu-22M0: Earliest pre-production variant, 9 were produced.
  • Tu-22M1: Pilot-production aircraft, 9 were produced in 1971 and 1972. Its NATO reporting name was Backfire-A.
  • Tu-22M2: 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 intake ramps, and new undercarriage with the main landing gear in the wing glove rather than in large pods. 211 Tu-22M2 were built from 1972 into 1983. The Tu-22M2 had a top speed of Mach 1.65 and was 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.
  • Tu-22M3: The later Tu-22M3 (NATO: Backfire-C), which first flew in 1977, introduced into operations in 1983 and officially entered service in 1989, had new NK-25 engines with substantially more power, wedge-shaped intake ramps 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. The aerodynamic changes increased its top speed to Mach 2.05 and its range by one third compared to the Tu-22M2. It has 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. 268 were built until 1993. As built, the Tu-22M included the provision for a retractable probe in the upper part of the nose for aerial refueling. The probe was reportedly removed as a result of the SALT negotiations, because with refueling it was considered an intercontinental range strategic bomber. The probe can be reinstated if needed. Tu-22M3s used to attack targets in Syria underwent modernization, during which the SVP-24 specialized computing subsystems were installed on them, significantly increased the accuracy of the bombing. 5 modernized aircraft entered service in 2015, 2 more in 2017. One more in 2018.
  • Tu-22M3M: Tu-22M3 for the Russian Air Force with upgraded avionics and the ability to use precision air-to-surface weapons. Prior to 2020 it is planned to upgrade 30 Tu-22M3 with new hardware components and adapted for the extended range weapons. Can carry 12 Kh-15 or 3 Kh-22 missiles. The first flight is scheduled for August 2018.
  • Tu-22MR: Several Tu-22M3s, perhaps 12, were converted to Tu-22M3(R) or Tu-22MR standard with Shompol side looking airborne radar and other ELINT equipment.

Users[edit]

See Also[edit]

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