The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has officially confirmed that Tu-22M3 Backfire-C bombers are now at Khmeimim airbase in Syria. Khmeimim Air Base is a Syrian airbase currently operated by Russia, located south-east of the city of Latakia in Hmeimim, Latakia Governorate, Syria. The crews of the bombers received practical skills to perform tasks in new geographical areas. At present, all types of aircraft in service with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, including heavy aircraft, can fly from the Hmeymim Air Base.
The Tu-22m3 long-range bombers, which arrived at the Russian Hmeymim air base in the Syrian Arab Republic the day before, made regular training flights over the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, accompanied by Russian Su-35 fighters. The bombers have been drawn from Russian Aerospace Forces. Positioning even a handful of long-range bombers at Khmeimim provides Russia with a significant force-projection capability around the Mediterranean and not just in Syria, where these bombers have been used in combat in the past.
The Khmeimim Air Base shares some airfield facilities with Bassel Al-Assad International Airport. Russia decided to turn the Khmeimim base into a component of its permanent military contingent stationed in Syria. The deployment of heavy-class aircraft at the Hmeymim airfield became possible as a result of the reconstruction of the second runway with a complete replacement of the pavement and the installation of new lighting and radio equipment. The increase in the length of the runway made it possible to expand the capabilities of the airfield for receiving and servicing aircraft.
The Tupolev Tu-22M (NATO: Backfire) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau in the 1960s. According to some sources, the bomber was believed to be designated Tu-26 at one time. The later Tu-22M3 (NATO: Backfire-C) has a revised tail turret with a single cannon, and provision for an internal rotary launcher for the Raduga Kh-15 missile, similar to the American AGM-69 SRAM. It was nicknamed Troika (‘Trio’ or third) in Russian service. 268 were built until 1993.