TASS reported that the second prototype of the heavily upgraded Tu-22M3M strategic bomber had undergone trials at supersonic speed during its fourth test flight out of five already conducted. The aim of the flight was to assess the takeoff and landing characteristics and test the information control system. The second prototype of the Tu-22M3M supersonic bomber successfully performed its maiden flight in March 2020. The first upgraded Tu-22M3M missile-carrying bomber performed its debut flight on December 28, 2018.
The Tu-22M3M is a modernized version of the Tu-22M3 long-range supersonic missile-carrying bomber with the variable-sweep wing. Tu-22M3 for the Russian Air Force with engines from Tu-160M2 (NK-32-02), 80 percent of avionics are replaced or upgraded, including SVP-24-22 bombsights, a phased array NV-45 radar, GLONASS navigation system, modern digital glass cockpit and engine controls, electronic warfare countermeasures, and the ability to use precision air-to-surface weapons.
The Russian Ministry of Defense intends to upgrade up to 30 aircraft out of approximately 60 Tu-22M3s currently in service to the advanced Tu-22M3M variant. Can carry 3 Kh-32 or 4 Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missiles. Service life will be extended to 40–45 years. On 16 August 2018, the first modernized aircraft was unveiled during a roll-out ceremony at the Kazan Aviation Plant. It performed its maiden flight on 28 December 2018. On 20 March 2020, the second modernized Tu-22M3M aircraft had its maiden flight.
The Tupolev Tu-22M (Backfire) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the 1960s. 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 missile carrier strategic bombing role, and by the Soviet Naval Aviation (Aviacija Vojenno-Morskogo Flota, AVMF) 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.