Tupolev Tu-22M

Tupolev Tu-22M

Infobox Aircraft
name = Tu-22M

caption = Former Tu-22M3
type = Strategic bomber, Maritime strike.
manufacturer = Tupolev
first flight = 30 August 1969
introduction = 1972
retired =
produced =
status = Active service
primary user = Soviet Air Force
more users = Russian Air Force Ukrainian Air Force
number built =
unit cost =
developed from = Tupolev Tu-22
variants with their own articles =

The Tupolev Tu-22M (NATO reporting name "Backfire") is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Soviet Union. Significant numbers remain in service with the Russian Air Force.



The Tupolev Tu-22 had not proved particularly successful, in some respects being inferior to the earlier Tu-16. Its range and take-off performance, in particular, were definite weak points. Even as the Tu-22 was entering service, OKB Tupolev began work on an improved successor.

As with the contemporary Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 (NATO 'Flogger') and Sukhoi Su-17 (NATO 'Fitter') 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 Samolët 145, derived from the Tu-22, with some features borrowed from the abortive Tu-98 (NATO 'Backfin').

The first prototype, Tu-22M0, first flew on 30 August 1969. The resultant aircraft was first seen by NATO around that time. For several years it was believed in the West that its service designation was Tu-26. During the SALT negotiations of the 1980s the Soviets insisted it was the Tu-22M. At the time, Western authorities suspected that the misleading designation was intended to suggest that it was simply a derivative of the Tu-22 rather than the far more advanced and capable weapon it actually was. It now appears that Tu-22M was indeed the correct designation,Fact|date=October 2008 and the linkage to the earlier Tu-22 was intended by Tupolev to convince the Soviet government that it was an economical follow-on to the earlier aircraft.

Only nine of the earliest Tu-22M0 preproduction aircraft were produced, followed by nine more Tu-22M1 pilot-production craft in 1971 and 1972. They were known as Backfire-A' by NATO.


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 with F-4 Phantom II-style intakes, and new undercarriage carrying the landing gear in the wing glove rather than in large pods. These were most commonly armed 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').

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'), although apparently it is sometimes referred to as Tu-22 in Russian service.

One area 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,Fact|date=August 2008 although it can be easily reinstated if needed,Fact|date=August 2008 and in fact a pre-production Tu-22M1 (NATO Backfire-A) with refueling probe can be seen at Riga Airport today.

A small number, perhaps 12, of Tu-22M3s were converted to Tu-22M3(R) or Tu-22MR standard, with Shompol side-looking radar and other ELINT equipment. Fact|date=May 2008 A dedicated electronic warfare variant, designated Tu-22MP, was built in 1986, but to date only two or three prototypes have apparently been built. Some surviving Tu-22s have had equipment and avionic upgrades to Tu-22ME standard (which does not have a separate NATO reporting name at this time).

Total production of all variants was 497 including pre-production aircraft. Fact|date=August 2008


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.Fact|date=August 2008 The United States was highly concerned about the threat that this new bomber posed. By 1982 fewer than 200 had been built. While it was unable to complete a round trip to the contiguous United States without aerial refueling, it posed a tremendous threat to the US Navy and to NATO assets everywhere. Tu-22M's that were either refueled, on one-way missions, or forward based had the ability to make low-level penetrations of United States territory almost at will. NORAD relied heavily on early detection and interception of high-altitude bombers and had comparatively few surface-to-air assets to defend against such an attack.Fact|date=October 2008Fact|date=August 2008

Combat service

The Tu-22M saw its first combat use in Afghanistan from 1987 to 1989. Its usage was similar to the United States Air Force deployment of B-52 Stratofortress bombers in Vietnam War, dropping large tonnages of conventional ordnance. The Russian Federation used the Tu-22M3 in combat against Chechen forces in 1995, carrying out strikes near Grozny. Fact|date=August 2008

At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, some 370 remained in CIS service. Production ended in 1993. As of 2008, the current strength is about 162 aircraft, [ [http://warfare.ru/?linkid=1618&catid=257 TU-22M Backfire | Russian Arms, Military Technology, Analysis of Russia's Military Forces ] ] with an additional 93 in reserve.

Russian military officially acknowledged the loss of a Tu-22M3 bomber to Georgian air defenses early in the 2008 South Ossetia war. [cite web |url=http://www.lenta.ru/news/2008/08/09/planes/ |title=Генштаб признал потерю двух самолетов в Южной Осетии |publisher=Lenta.ru |date=August 9, 2008 |accessdate=2008-08-09] [cite web |url=http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200808.chang.russiaresurgentgeorgia.html#ref6 |title=Russia Resurgent: An Initial Look at Russian Military Performance in Georgia |date= August 13, 2008|accessdate=2008-10-07] The pilot claimed the aircraft was being used for reconnaissance over South Ossetia and Gori. Althought left unspecified, it is assumed that the news article was referring to the Tu-22M, not the Tu-22 .RIA Novosti is reporting this aircraft as the Tu-22 with NATO reporting name BLINDER, which would be an older aircraft than the variable-geometry naval aircraft Tu-22M. [Walker, Shaun " [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/war-is-absurd-says-russian-pilot-shot-down-over-georgia-898991.html War is absurd, says Russian pilot shot down over Georgia] ". "The Independent.co.uk". 16 August 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2008.]


The Soviet Union did not export the Tu-22M, but the break-up of the USSR left some aircraft in the possession of former Soviet republics. Belarus has 52 (the serviceability of which is unclear). Ukraine possessed an additional 29, but since the Ukrainian government's renunciation of nuclear weapons, those aircraft have been destroyed, the last in 2004.

Tupolev 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 materialized. Four were leased to India in 2001 for maritime reconnaissance and strike purposes. [ [http://www.aeronautics.ru/news/news001/afm170.htm Russian Aircraft for India] ]


Current Operators

; RUS : About 161, plus 91 in reserve. [ [http://warfare.ru/?linkid=1618&catid=257 TU-22M Backfire | Russian Arms, Military Technology, Analysis of Russia's Military Forces ] ]
* Russian Air Force
* Russian Naval Aviation; IND
* Indian Navy : 4 (leased in 2001)

Former Operators

* Belarusian Air Force; UKR
* Ukrainian Air Force; USSR: All Soviet Union Tu-22Ms were passed to successor states.
* Soviet Air Force
* Soviet Naval Aviation

Specifications of Tu-22M3 (NATO 'Backfire-C')

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
crew=4 (pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, defensive systems operator)
length main=42.4 m
length alt=139ft
span main=112ft 5in

* Spread (20° sweep): 34.28 m
span alt=112 ft 6 in)

* Swept (65° sweep): 23.30 m (76 ft 5 in)
height main=11.05 m
height alt=36 ft 3 in
area main=

* Spread: 183.6 m²
area alt=1,976 ft²)

* Swept: 175.8 m² (1,892 ft²
empty weight main=58,000 kg
empty weight alt=172,000 lb
loaded weight main=112,000 kg
loaded weight alt=247,000 lb
max takeoff weight main=126,000 kg
max takeoff weight alt=277,800 lb
engine (jet)=Kuznetsov NK-25
type of jet= turbofans
number of jets=2
thrust main=245 kN
thrust alt=50,000 lbf
max speed main=Mach 2.3
max speed alt=2,327 km/h,
combat radius main=2410 km
combat radius alt=1500 mi
range main=7000 km
range alt=4971 mi
ceiling main=13,300 m
ceiling alt=40,635 ft
climb rate main= 15m/s
climb rate alt= 91ft/s
loading main=688 kg/m²
loading alt=147 lb/ft²
guns=1× GSh-23 cannon in remotely controlled tail turret
hardpoints=wing and fuselage pylons and internal weapons bay
hardpoint capacity=21,000 kg (46,300 lb) of

** From 1× up to 3× Raduga Kh-22 or Raduga KSR-5 missiles in weapons bay and on wing pylons "or"
** 1× internal rotary launcher for six Raduga Kh-15 short-range nuclear missiles plus two more Kh-15 or Kh-27 on each wing pylon
** Various freefall bombs. 69× FAB-250 or 8× FAB-1500 as typical arnament.

See also

* Tupolev Tu-22
* Tupolev Tu-98
* Tupolev Tu-160
similar aircraft=
* B-1 Lancer


External links

* http://airwar.ru/enc/bomber/tu22m3.html
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/tu-22m.htm Globalsecurity.org entry for the Tu-22M]
* [http://www.aviation.ru/Tu/#22 Tu-22* at aviation.ru]
* [http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/bomber/tu-22m.htm FAS.org entry for Tu-22M]
* [http://www1.airliners.net/search/photo.search?front=yes&s=1&keywords=Tupolev%20Tu-22M Tu-22M at Airliners.net]

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