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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tu-22M3 BACKFIRE Variant

The Backfire C - TU-22M3 ("45-03") modifications of Tu-22M + NK-25 engines with electronic control system ESUD-25 + air intake design changed + airplane power supply system changed + electronically controlled brushless generators + constant speed drives + two alkaline nickels - 20NKBN-25U3 cadmium batteries + BKO L-229 Ural on-board defense complex + L-083 Mak heat direction finder, SPO LO06 Birch + interference stations SPS-151-153 Lilac and SPS-5M Fasol + APP-22MS passive interference reset machine (Avtomat-3) + ASO-2B-126 reflector reset machines (Avtomat-2) + one temporary carrying both missiles and bombs + the fueling rod was changed + titanium is widely used in the design + the weight of the aircraft is reduced by 2700 kg. + X-15 missiles. During subsequent upgrades the nose was lengthened, the air intakes changed and the maximum angle of the swept-variable geometry wings increased up to 65 degrees.

The aircraft received the designation TU-22M3 and carried out its' first flight test on 20 June 1977. The TU-22M3 began operational evaluation in the late 1970s, and in 1983 it was introduced into the active inventory. Cleared of some of the shortcomings of its predecessor this aircraft soon proved its worth in service with long-range and naval aviation units. The range of the bomber was increased to 6800 km, the maximum speed up to 2300 kms/h and the payload was twice that of the Tu-22M2. The bomber is equipped with a maximum of three Kh-22 cruise missiles or up to ten Kh-15 (AS-16) short-range missiles. It can also carry nuclear bombs. In 1985 the TU-22M3 conducted high-speed flight tests at low altitude that demonstrated the capability of countering air defenses.

The Tu-22M3 is often called the "killer of aircraft carriers", but this is an incorrect epithet. It would be more correct to call the entire division that way, and a single Backfire against an aircraft carrier group is useless. The X-22 had two advantages. First, the missiles exchanged information with each other during the flight, it was enough to launch them, indicating the minimum set of target parameters. The second is high survivability in front of air defense systems. According to calculations, one Kh-22 with constructive protection withstood the burst of the 20-mm Vulcan-Phalanx anti-aircraft artillery system, the hit of one AIM-7 Sparrow missile or two or three AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

The Tu-22M3 was a highly specialized aircraft capable of relatively effectively destroying enemy aircraft carriers, but not applicable to other tasks. According to the new requirements of the military in 1989, the modernized Tu-22M3 must hit even small ground targets with the help of free-falling bombs from a height of at least eight thousand meters. It needs to carry modernized air-launched cruise missiles, which, unlike their predecessors, the Kh-22, are capable of penetrating air defense at a range of up to a thousand kilometers. The onboard sighting and navigation system, the weapons system were to be replaced, and it was also planned to install a new, more powerful NK-32 engine. Started in 1990, the modernization work, called "Adaptation", was prevented by the collapse of the USSR.

The Air Force and Naval Aviation of the Navy returned to the issue of modernizing and re-equipping the Tu-22M3 in the early 2000s, when most of the Kh-22 missiles expired in storage and operation. To re-equip the Backfire fleet with the new X-32, it was necessary to modernize the sighting system and weapons system. But the work has been delayed. In 2008, during the war in Transcaucasia, Tu-22M3s attacked Georgian airfields with conventional free-fall bombs, not cruise missiles. As a result, the Air Force lost one bomber from the 52nd Guards Heavy Bomber Regiment. "Backfire" had to drop from 12 to four thousand meters and he got into the enemy's air defense zone.

Tu-22M3s were used to carry out massive bombing attacks on stationary targets: Backfire carries several times more bombs than front-line bomber Su-24 or attack aircraft Su-25. Bombers are forced to descend from a safe height of 10-12 thousand meters to four thousand, otherwise, due to the dispersion of free-falling bombs, they cannot reach the target area. But even descending to dangerous heights, the aircraft could not fulfill the tasks assigned to them. For example, at the Kopitnari airfield, the runway was damaged in three places, which would not prevent the Georgian Su-25s from taking off and landing if necessary.

As a result of the August 2008 war, work on the modernization of the Tu-22M3 fleet was resumed. The Tupolev Design Bureau, which received good funding, planned a phased modernization. At the first stage (by the end of 2011) to finalize the Backfire for the use of the modernized Kh-32 missile, to bring it to state tests. Using the results obtained, at the second stage, create a deeply modernized bomber under the Tu-22M3M index and deliver 30 new aircraft of this type to the Air Force by 2020.

During the first stage, the Raduga Design Bureau, which developed the X-32 missiles, was supposed to conduct flight, flight design and state tests of its product. But only in June 2010, Tupolev was able to prepare documentation for the upgraded bomber for approval by the Ministry of Defense, although already in the autumn of that year the upgraded aircraft was supposed to fly and launch missiles. The delay with the coordination also disrupted the Kh-32 missile readiness deadlines, they were shifted to the end of 2012. Lacking the necessary documentation from the Tupolev Design Bureau, Raduga suspended work on its product from January 1, 2011.

The project was resumed only in 2012, and the Kh-32 successfully passed flight and state tests, was recommended for adoption as an armament of the modernized Tu-22M3 bomber. That's just the carrier itself has not yet risen into the air. A paradoxical situation has arisen: the missile has been accepted into service, but there is no aircraft for it. Although, according to the 2008 contract, the entire combat complex was to be tested as part of the modernized Tu-22M3 and Kh-32.

Outraged by this situation, the Ministry of Defense sent claims to the Tupolev Design Bureau. The management of the bureau, in turn, demanded penalties against the Raduga MKB. Now all three parties are trying to collect from each other multimillion-dollar fines for failure to meet the terms of the contract. On June 13, 2013, the 9th Arbitration Court of Moscow dismissed the military department's claim against Raduga for 103 million rubles.

After the transfer of naval missile-carrying regiments to its structure, the Air Force remained the only owners of the Tu-22M fleet. Faced with modernization difficulties, the Air Force Command turned to Gefest and T, known for the successful restyling of the Su-24M fleet. The company is located in Zhukovsky near Moscow. Back in 2008, on its own initiative, for its own money, it developed a specialized computing subsystem SVP-24-22, which provides a single autonomous guidance of an aircraft on a target with retargeting in flight, as well as a group attack of a target by aircraft from different arbitrary directions. SVP-24-22 is compatible with the automated aviation control system "Metronome", successfully tested in the exercises "Kavkaz-2012".

In 2012, the Ministry of Defense entered into an agreement with Gefest and T for the retrofitting of Tu-22M3 combatants with the SVP-24-22 system. For flight personnel, such machines were nicknamed "Ogefechennye". Currently, about a dozen machines have been upgraded. “SVP-24-22 allows you to hit ground targets with conventional free-falling bombs at a distance of 30–40 kilometers with high accuracy. Having received the exact coordinates of the target, the complex, taking into account the parameters and coordinates of the aircraft, calculates the optimal trajectory for dropping, puts the board on course and drops the bomb, ”an officer of the Air Force Command, who is familiar with the situation, told the military-industrial complex. According to him, the media often confuse Tu-22M3, equipped with SVP-24-22, and Tu-22M3M.

The M3 with the Gefest complex has nothing to do with the work of the Tupolev Design Bureau. Already equipped SVP-24-22 Backfires will also be modified to use the X-32, but due to ongoing litigation, the transfer of documentation was delayed.

According to Dmitry Kornev, an independent military expert and editor-in-chief of the MilitaryRussia information project, two tasks are being solved now - modernization of the aircraft and weapons systems. “With the right approach, this will make it possible to significantly increase the potential of a group of several dozen Tu-22M3s at a very low cost. If the third task is also solved - the installation of new missile systems on the updated aircraft and the return of the in-flight refueling system, then we will get a multiple increase in the strategic aviation fleet, ”Kornev believes.

Maxim Tokarev, for his part, claims that the modernized Tu-22M3 will not solve the problem of destroying aircraft carrier groups: “A single aircraft or squadron will not break through the air defense of the AUG order. The question is quantity. To complete the task, it is worth delivering a simultaneous strike of 60-70 supersonic cruise missiles, that is, reviving the regiments and divisions of the MRA.”

Anton Lavrov noted that the Tu-22M3 with corrected aircraft weapons such as American JDAM bombs alone could destroy a target like the Georgian Kopitnari airfield. “The American B-1B supersonic bomber, equipped with the Sniper targeting container, has become the US Air Force’s “weapon of choice” for supporting ground forces. Capable of hitting even small targets with TV-guided and laser-guided bombs from a height of 10,000 meters, the B-1B was actively used in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya,” Lavrov added.

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Page last modified: 11-06-2022 17:56:20 ZULU