Russian SUPERSONIC Strategic Bomber TU-22 M3 Backfire
The Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire is a supersonic bomber which was designed to replace the subsonic Tu-16 and the troublesome Tu-22 missile carriers. Although its designation may suggest that the 'Tu-22M' Backfire is basically a modified Tu-22 'Blinder' it is a completely different and new design with only a few small Tu-22 features maintained. The Tu-22M design features a variable geometry wing which is also found on contemporary tactical fighters and the American B-1B bomber. The two turbofan afterburning engines are unlike almost every other bomber located in its fuselage body, with large shoulder mounted intakes, more similar to contemporary tactical fighters and fighter-bombers. The first production variant was the Tu-22M2. The variant was capable of being refuelled in flight. However after the SALT treaty the probe was removed, remaining the probe housing. Later the probe housing was also removed, but the aircraft keeps the bulge-like shape of the nose. The latest version, the Tu-22M3 or 'Backfire-C', has two NK-25 engines replacing the original NK-22s. The new engines coupled with redesigned engine intakes boosted performance. Also the maximum wing sweep was increased back to 65 degrees. The Tu-22M3 is capable of Mach 1 at low level and has a max speed of Mach 2.05. The Tu-22M3 was also armed with a new weapon, the Raduga Kh-15 which was better suited against enemy air defences than the obsolete Kh-22. Probably because of the large available inventory of Kh-22 missile, the Kh-22 was improved and remained in service on the Tu-22M.
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