Fast, modern & ‘hyper-armed’: Russia rolls out upgraded supersonic strike bomber
“It’s a principally new plane inside – with completely new systems, completely new capabilities, might and threat to potential adversaries,” Yuri Slyusar, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation, told reporters on Thursday, as the new version of the bomber was rolled out from the plant in the southwestern city of Kazan.
The Tu-22M3M jet is designed to strike sea and ground targets at a distance of up to 2,200km (1,367 miles) using bombs and guided missiles. The modified plane has a more comfortable cockpit, can travel longer distances, and fly faster due to its more powerful engine. About 80 percent of its electronics was updated, the plane’s manufacturers say.
It will also be equipped with formidable new weaponry to match its capabilities. The plane will be fitted with the newest long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, Kh-32s, which will allow it to attack large naval groups, according to Senator Viktor Bondarev.
Bondarev, who led the Russian Aerospace Forces in the past, also said that the bomber will be armed with hypersonic missiles in the future. The Russian media, citing military sources, had earlier reported that the Tu-22M3M will be used to test the hypersonic ‘Kinzhal’ (‘Dagger’) missiles, and will later be able to carry four such missiles.
The plane will undergo extensive testing, while its first flight is scheduled for September. Russia is planning to modernize up to 30 such bombers by 2020.
The original Tu-22M3 was created in 1970s. The jet was used in bombing raids during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and saw limited action in counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus. It was most recently deployed in Syria during strikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) targets.
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