Russia is set to upgrade its supersonic bomber fleet with a new ballistic missile capable of supersonic speeds, dramatically increasing the Russian air force’s lethality.
The upgrades to the Tupelov Tu-22M3 Backfire intermediate range bombers are also going to be upgraded with new engines and better avionics.
If the upgrades remain on schedule, the first of 30 modernized bombers will make its debut flight next year sometime.
“The first heavily upgraded Tu-22M3 will take to the skies in 2018,” Tupolev chief executive officer Alexander Konyukhov said November 17. “Also in that year, the modernization of operational aircraft will begin in compliance with the new state armament program. The upgrade will be carried out within the timeframe defined by this program.”
“…The Tu-22M3Mwill be armed with upgraded X-32 supersonic anti-ship missile, a modernized version of the X-22 (NATO AS-4 Kitchen). The massive 13,000lbs weapon has a speed of about Mach 4.5 while flying at altitudes of 130,000ft over a range of about 620 miles. It can be armed with a 1,102lbs conventional warhead or a nuclear warhead if needed. The Tu-22M3M will be able to carry three such weapons.”
There is one flaw in the system, however, and that’s target cueing. “The X-32 uses a combination of inertial navigation, GPS/GLONASS and active radar homing to hit targets at range. However, the 600 miles is well beyond the Tu-22M3M’s sensor range.” [source]
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