Tupolev Tu-22M

The Tupolev Tu-22M (NATO reporting name Backfire) is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Soviet Union. Significant numbers remain in service with the Russian Air Force. 

During the Cold War, the Tu-22M was operated in a strategic bombing role and in a long-range maritime anti-shipping role. While it was unable to complete a round trip to the contiguous United States without aerial refueling, it posed a tremendous threat to the US Navy and to NATO assets everywhere. Tu-22s that were either refueled, on one-way missions, or forward based had the ability to make low-level penetrations of United States territory almost at will. 

The Tu-22M saw its first combat use in Afghanistan from 1987 to 1989. The Russian Federation used the Tu-22 in combat against Chechen forces in 1995, carrying out strikes near Grozny. At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union some 370 Tu-22M bombers were in service. 

The Soviet Union did not export the Tu-22M, but the break-up of the USSR left some aircraft in the possession of former Soviet republics, other than Russia. Belarus has 52 (the serviceability of which is unclear). Ukraine possessed an additional 29, but those aircraft have been destroyed, the last in 2004.

Tupolev Tu-22M
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Tupolev
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1969
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Russia (USSR) 1972 2008 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Tupolev 497 View

Role Strategic bomber, maritime strike
Manufacturer Tupolev
First flight 30 August 1969
Introduction 1972
Status In service
Primary users Soviet Air Forces (historical)
Russian Air Force
Ukrainian Air Force
Indian Navy (historical)
Produced 1967–1997
Number built 497
Developed from Tupolev Tu-22

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, defensive systems operator)
  • Length: 42.4 m (139ft)
  • Wingspan: 112ft 5in
  • Spread (20 sweep): 34.28 m (112 ft 6 in)
  • Swept (65 sweep): 23.30 m (76 ft 5 in))
  • Height: 11.05 m (36 ft 3 in)
  • Wing area: * Spread: 183.6 m (1,976 ft)
  • Swept: 175.8 m (1,892 ft)
  • Empty weight: 58,000 kg (172,000 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 112,000 kg (247,000 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 126,000 kg (277,800 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Kuznetsov NK-25 turbofans, 245 kN (50,000 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.3 (2,327 km/h,)
  • Range: 7000 km (4971 mi)
  • Combat radius: 2410 km (1500 mi)
  • Service ceiling 13,300 m (40,635 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 15m/s (91ft/s)
  • Wing loading: 688 kg/m (147 lb/ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.40


  • Guns: 1 x GSh-23 cannon in remotely controlled tail turret
  • Hardpoints: wing and fusalage pylons and internal weapons bay with a capacity of 21,000 kg (46,300 lb) of
  • From 1 x up to 3 x Raduga Kh-22 or Raduga KSR-5 missiles in weapons bay and on wing pylons or
  • 1 x internal rotary launcher for six Raduga Kh-15 short-range nuclear missiles plus two more Kh-15 or Kh-27 on each wing pylon
  • Various freefall bombs. 69 x FAB-250 or 8 x FAB-1500 as typical arnament.

End notes