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Repaired strategic bomber Tu-22M3 re-enters service with Russia’s Aerospace Force

The bombers will get advanced precision weapons while their radio-electronic devices and engines will be similar to the equipment aboard the latest Tu-160M2 aircraft

MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. Russia’s Tupolev Aircraft Company has delivered another repaired Tu-22M3 long-range missile-carrying bomber to the country’s Aerospace Force, the Tupolev press office reported on Friday.

"On November 30, the plane left the flight testing station of the Kazan Aircraft Enterprise, a Tupolev branch. The Tu-22M3 has undergone an entire range of controlling and repairing work in the enterprise’s workshops to regain its flight worthiness while specialists have carried out all ground tests at the enterprise’s flight testing station. The operational acceptance/delivery and familiarization flights have also been successful," the press office said.

After the Tu-22M3 is delivered to the customer, it will traditionally perform a flight over the enterprise and then fly to its destination point.

"This plane, like other operational Tu-22M3 aircraft, will undergo its upgrade to the Tu-22M3M modification from 2018," the Tupolev press office said.

A source in the Russian defense industry told TASS in mid-November that designers had completed developing the documentation for the modified version of the Tu-22M3 bomber, the Tu-22M3M, and the first heavy upgrade of operational aircraft would begin in 2018.

The Tu-22M3M bombers will get advanced precision weapons while their radio-electronic devices and engines will be similar to the equipment aboard the latest Tu-160M2 aircraft, the source added.

"The development of the documentation for the Tu-22M3M has been completed and work is currently underway at the Kazan Aircraft Enterprise to prepare the production facilities for the repair and modernization of the bombers that are in service in the operational units of Russia’s Aerospace Force. The first heavy upgrade of these planes since the time of their development will begin from next year," the source said.

"The Tu-22M3M will feature an absolutely new avionics system standardized with the Tu-160M2," the source noted.

"This refers to the entire avionics, including the navigation and sighting complex," the source said, adding that after its upgrade the Tu-22M3M would get a possibility to use "modern long-range precision weapons."

According to the source, the Tu-22M3M will have a power unit identical to the motor system aboard the Tu-160M2 (new NK-32-02 engines produced by the Samara-based Kuznetsov aerospace engine company).

Upgrade of 30 bombers

As was reported earlier, 30 planes will be upgraded to the level of the Tu-22M3M. They will feature a new SVP-24-22 radio-electronic system, a NV-45 radar, the cockpit’s improved ergonomics, new onboard systems and an extended service life of 35 years. The upgraded bomber will be able to carry precision conventional weapons, including Kh-32 cruise missiles with a range of up to 600 km.

The Tu-22M3 long-range supersonic missile-carrying bomber is a heavily upgraded version of the Tu-22 aircraft. The plane was developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the mid-1970s. It performed its debut flight on June 20, 1977 and went into service in 1989. It develops a maximum speed of 2,000 km/h, has a service ceiling of 13,300 meters and a combat load of up to 24 tonnes (Kh-22 and Kh-15 missiles, bombs, sea mines).

Overall, Russia has produced 268 such planes. According to the data of The Military Balance magazine, the Russian Aerospace Force operates 62 Tu-22M3 bombers. They are actively used in the Syria campaign, delivering strikes against terrorists’ facilities.