China buys Tu-22 production line from Russia. A major threat to the U.S. aircraft carriers in the region

For the third time in 7 years (first one being in 2005, second earlier in 2012) several websites in China (link in Chinese) are reporting that China and Russia have agreed for Beijing to buy the production line for the Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber at a cost of 1.5 billion USD.

Once in service with the Chinese Naval Air Forces the Tu-22M3 will be known as the “H-10”.

The deal struck with Russia comes with 36 aircraft (and engines): an initial batch of 12 followed by a second batch of 24 aircraft are thought to be on order.

The Tu-22 will be employed in the maritime attack role and will be used to attack targets from low level (to avoid radar detection).

The Tu-22 is a Soviet supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber. It was developed during the Cold War and it is among the farthest things to a moder stealth bomber. However, it was upgraded, it will get updated with (indigenous?) systems and, with a range of about 6,800 kilometers and a payload of 24,000 kg, it is still considered a significant threat to many latest generations weapon systems.

Especially if the deal with Russia includes the Raduga Kh-22 (AS-4 ‘Kitchen’) long-range anti-ship missile.

The deal could represent a significant change in the strategic balance in the region.

The Tu-22 bombers will give China another tool to pursue the area denial strategy in the South China Sea and the Pacific theatre; a fast platform to launch cruise missiles, conventional or nuclear weapons in various regional war scenarios.

In other words, a brand new threat to the U.S. Navy in the region.

Written with David Cenciotti

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  1. Vietnam spanked China in 1979 during a month long war with little support from their ally the USSR, Chinas worst nightmare would be a real peace and military alliance between the Vietnamese and Americans, the US does engage when an ally is invaded.

    • Michael, I thought it was the other way around in that war. The Chinese successfully exposed the Soviet lack of will to come to VN’s aid. All without even expending any air power. And “spanking” was premier Deng Xiaoping words, even to Jimmy Carter months before he invaded.

  2. The problem is IF China gets these bombers in big numbers…the soviet tactic to engage the US Navy was to perform saturation attacks…
    As for interception i think that a SuperHornet or a F-35 wont have much trouble in dealing with this kind of treath…specially whem the «D» version of the AMRAAM enters service…

  3. Please read Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy for a fictional account how TU-22s savage a Carrier Battle Group…

  4. When was the last Tu-22M produced? In the eighties? Could a production line have survived all this time? In Russia?

    Are the engines still being made? If not, what could replace them?

    Would 1.5 billion be enough to start a new production line from scratch and integrate new engines and avionics?

    As much as I love this plane, I really don’t think this can ever happen. We would see China buying the Su-34 before this.

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