Russian Tu-22M3 Bomber Crashes in Murmansk Region Killing Two Crew Members

A Tu-22M3 Backfire (Image credit: Russia MoD via Wiki)

A Backfire supersonic strategic bomber has crashed in Russia.

A Russian Air Force Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber crashed at Olenegorsk airbase, in the Murmansk region, shortly after 13:30LT on Jan. 22. According to the first reports, the aircraft was attempting to recover at its homebase in bad weather after a training sortie when it performed a hard landing. Of the four crew members, two were injured and were transported to a medical facility to receive assistance whereas two were killed.

The Russian MoD said in a public release that the Tu-22 mission was carried out without weapons.

The Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 is a replacement of the Cold War-era Tu-22 Binder, a twin-engine supersonic bomber with variable geometry swept wings. The Tu-22M3 and M3M variants are in wide service in Russia, with over 80 reported in flying with the Russian Air Force and more than 40 in use with Russian Naval Aviation as long-range maritime patrol, surveillance and attack aircraft. Indeed, the aircraft was primarily developed as an anti-ship missile carrier for the Soviet/Russian supersonic Kh-22/32 anti-ship missiles with range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles) as well as for smaller Kh-15 missiles with range of up to 300 km (160 miles).

The naval variant of the aircraft became famous in the West following the 1991 release of the fictional best-seller The Sum of All Fears by late author Tom Clancy, in which a group of Tu-22M3s launch a cruise missile attack on a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Atlantic during an international crisis between the former Soviet Union and the United States.

With a reported maximum bomb load of 24,000 kg the Tu-22M3 has been involved in the air war over Syria, mainly dropping iron bombs (such as the FAB-250 unguided bombs) on soft targets during high-altitude carpet bombing missions.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.