Tu-22M3, 'aircraft carrier killers' deployed at Khmeimim airbase in Syria

Three long-range Tu-22M3 bombers flew to the Russian Khmeimim airbase in Syria, where they will be based for the first time. According to the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry, the crews of long-range bombers will acquire skills in practicing training missions during flights over the Mediterranean Sea, before they return to their permanent airbases in Russia.

Tu-22M3 deployed in Syria

The Russian Defense Ministry added that the reconstruction of the second runway at Khmeimim airbase was completed. The surface of the runway has been renovated completely, new light-signal and radio equipment has been installed. Owing to the increase in the length of the runway, the aerodrome has obtained expanded opportunities to accept and maintain aircraft of various classes.

All types of currently-in-service Russian Air Force aircraft, including heavy aircraft, can use the Khmeimim airbase in Syria.

The Tu-22M3 (NATO reporting name: Backfire) is a long-range supersonic missile carrier-bomber aircraft designed to destroy naval and ground-based targets with the use of guided missiles and aerial bombs.

  • It made its first flight in 1977, and has been put into serial production since 1978.
  • In its final form, the Tu-22M3 was put into service in March 1989.

According to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the aircraft was created to destroy local targets — aircraft carrier strike groups in the first place. It is capable of disabling three large ships at a time, since it carries on board three long-range X-22 rockets equipped with thermonuclear warheads with a capacity of up to one megaton. This model of the aircraft is known as the "aircraft carrier killer".