Russian Tu-22M3 “Backfire” Bomber Crash Lands Into A Field During Emergency, Crew Safe

File photo of Russian Tu-22M3 bomber, NATO codename "Backfire". (Image credit: via Wiki)

Accident is Third in Series of Significant Russian Military Mishaps in December.

A Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3, NATO reporting name “Backfire”, twin-engine supersonic bomber crash-landed yesterday in the Astrakhan-Oblast region of southern Russia after suffering a reported engine failure. The crew escaped without injuries after bringing the aircraft into a “field” in a rural setting without a high concentration of civilians. The crew’s actions are already being hailed as “heroic” in Russian news and social media. The aircraft was unarmed and flying in a routine training mission according to the Russian military.

The news of this most recent mishap for the Russian military comes only a week after a tragic fire aboard the country’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, killed at least one person, injured 10 and left 2 sailors unaccounted for.

Earlier this month, on December 12, 2019, the Moscow Times reported the crash of a Russian Mi-28 two-man gunship helicopter, NATO reporting name “Havoc”, that killed two crewmembers on Tuesday night, December 10, near the Korenovsk airfield in the Krasnodar region. The Moscow Times, citing an Interfax release of a Russian Defense Ministry’s official statement, reported that the Mi-28 gunship’s “flight took place without ammunition. There are no marks of destruction on the ground. Both pilots were killed”.

An image of the crashed Russian Mi-28 attack helicopter, NATO codename “Havoc” (Image credit: via Alex Snow).

The Mi-28 is similar in configuration to the western AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

File photo of Russian Mi-28 attack helicopter, NATO codename “Havoc”. (Photo: TheAviationist)

While reasons for the string of accidents in the Russian military are under individual investigations, the frequency of Russian accidents mirrors U.S. military aviation accidents that has become the focus of media attention during much of the year. These include a tragic December 5th crash of a U.S. Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter that killed 3 near Kimball, Minnesota, a string of accidents in U.S. T-38s and F-16s throughout the year, and a sensational and tragic fatal crash of a U.S. F/A-18E in a well-known western U.S. low flying area.

This week’s accident is the second one involving a Tu-22M3 so far in 2019. Earlier this year on January 22, 2019, a Tu-22M3 crashed near the city of Olenegorsk in Russia’s Murmansk region, where the long-range bombers often operate from. Four people died in the January 2019 accident. Russia reported the aircraft was unarmed at the time of the crash. Adverse weather in the region, including an arctic storm, was cited as a possible contributing factor to the fatal accident.

File photo of Russian Tu-22M3 bomber, NATO codename “Backfire”. (Photo: TheAviationist)

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.