Russia has formally rolled out a newly upgraded Tupolev Tu-22M3M Backfire supersonic intermediate range bomber.
The upgraded bomber, which can be armed with a range of cruise and aeroballistic missiles, has the potential to threaten targets across Europe and the North Atlantic. But the big question is whether or not the Tu-22M3M will be counted against Russia’s quota on nuclear delivery vehicles under the New START treaty.
“The first experimental Tupolev-22M3M was created under a large-scale program for upgrading strategic and long-range aircraft PAO Tupolev is working on at the moment. In the next phase the first batch of Tupolev-22M3 planes currently in service will be upgraded,” Tupolev CEO Alexander Konyukhov said at the upgraded bombers roll out ceremony on August 16 according to the state-owned TASS news agency .
Now that the Tu-22M3M has been formally rolled out, the aircraft will be inducted into a flight test program before the Russian defense ministry decides to proceed with fielding the newly modified bomber. “The Defense Ministry will make a decision to upgrade operational planes on the basis of results of joint government certification tests,” Konyukhov said. “By and large the upgrade program will ensure the operation of strategic and long-range planes in the long term and effective performance of their tasks.”
According to Tupolev, the aircraft has been extensively modernized. “In the process of profound upgrade the Tupolev-22M3M was equipped with the newest on-board digital radio-electronic equipment made of domestically manufactured components. In particular, the plane boasts new navigation, communication and targeting equipment, new engine and fuel consumption control systems and radio-electronic warfare means,” the Tupolev company told TASS. “The upgraded plane was also equipped with a new information and control system with digital indicators in the cockpit and the function of intellectual support for the crew.”