According to Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), on 28 December an extensively upgraded Tupolev Tu-22M3 ‘Backfire-C’ supersonic long-range strategic bomber, now made its maiden flight at an airbase belonging to the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Plant (KAZ). The modernised missile carrying bomber is an upgraded version of the Tu-22M3 and can achieve a speed of 10 Mach. The flight lasted for 37 minutes and was conducted in a routine mode at an altitude of 1,500 m. The Tupolev Tu-22M3 prototype was unarmed during its debut flight. According to TASS, Russian company United Aircraft expects the first serial-produced bombers to become available for troops from 2021.
The first flight of the upgraded aircraft was initially scheduled for early October, but had to be postponed for technical reasons, although ground trials continued throughout that period. The first Tu-22M3M prototype was rolled out at a UAC plant in Kazan this August. The Tu-22M3M bomber is a derivative of the Tu-22 supersonic variable-sweep wing bomber first introduced into service with the Soviet Air Force and Soviet Naval Aviation in the 1970s. Tu-22M3 for the Russian Air Force with engines from Tu-160M2 (NK-32-02), 80 percent of avionics are replaced or upgraded (SVP-24-22 bombsights, a phased array NV-45 radar, GLONASS navigation system, modern digital glass cockpit and engine controls and electronic warfare countermeasures) and the ability to use precision air-to-surface weapons.
Tupolev Tu-22M3M was also given the ability to carry and fire top-of-the-line Russian missiles, such as Kh-32 cruise missile or 4 Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ballistic missile. Kh-32 is a radically upgraded conventional/nuclear variant of Kh-22 long-range anti-ship missile with Mach 5 speed and 1,000 km (620 mi) range. The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“Dagger”) is a Russian nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile. It has a claimed range of more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi), Mach 10 speed, and an ability to perform evasive maneuvers at every stage of the flight. The Kinzhal can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads
The Tupolev Tu-22M (NATO reporting name: Backfire) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau. According to some sources, the bomber was believed to be designated Tu-26 at one time. During the Cold War, the Tu-22M was operated by the Soviet Air Forces (VVS) in a strategic bombing role, and by the Soviet Naval Aviation in a long-range maritime anti-shipping role. Significant numbers remain in service with the Russian Air Force, and as of 2014 more than 100 Tu-22Ms are in use. The Russian Ministry of Defense intends to upgrade up to 30 aircraft out of approximately 60 Tu-22Ms currently in service to the advanced Tu-22M3M variant.