Tu-22M3 will sink your aircraft carrier
The June 5 edition has published a new article with a loud headline "Russia's Tu-22M3 Backfire, The Bomber That Could Sink a Navy Aircraft Carrier" - "Meet the Russian Tu-22М3 - a bomber that can sink an aircraft carrier." The article from the headings The Buzz and Security was prepared by the editors of the publication.
The article begins with a reminder of the current work of the Russian aviation industry in the field of long-range bombers. The terrifying Russian Tupolev Tu-22М3 (NATO backfire) is undergoing a new update. Among other things, the upgraded aircraft should receive a new X-32 supersonic long-range missile. The authors believe that after such an update, the bomber will again become a threat to various sites of the North Atlantic region, as it was in the past, during the Cold War. It is expected that the upgraded aircraft with new weapons will go to aerospace forces in October this year.
The publication refers to the recent reports of the "Russian state" news agency TASS. 15 May, citing an unnamed source in the defense industry, this media reported on the future start of operation of the updated Tu-22М3М aircraft and promising X-32 missiles. The October 2018 of the year was named as the start date for their collaboration.
The National Interest edition reminds that the newest X-32 rocket is a variant of the further development of the old X-22 product (AS-4 Kitchen according to NATO classification), developed in the Raduga ICD during the Cold War. It is noted that the appearance of the X-32 rocket gives the Tu-22М3М aircraft great potential in striking. In this case, now we are talking not only about the attack of surface ships. Such missiles can also be used to destroy ground targets in Europe.
Large and heavy rocket X-22 at one time was designed to attack aircraft carriers of the US Navy. Created on its base, a new weapon, apparently, is intended to destroy a wide range of targets of various kinds. It can be used to attack bridges, military bases, power plants, etc. The goal for the X-32 can be any large object located at a great distance from the launch area.
The publication notes an interesting feature of information about the rocket X-32. Russian sources refer this product to the class of long-range cruise missiles. However, it has some features characteristic of air-based ballistic missiles. So, the rocket is equipped with a fluid engine and during the flight it is capable of rising to a height of 1300 thousand feet (about 40 km), after which it goes into a dive and goes to the target. According to Russian sources, in flight X-32 develops a speed of order M = 5. The range is stated at 1000 km - about 600 miles. The missile is equipped with a combined control system that includes inertial navigation devices and an active radar homing head.
Simultaneously with the creation of new missiles, Russia is engaged in updating the fleet of Tu-22М3 bombers, which have long served. It is expected that the repair and upgrading procedure of the Tu-22М3М project will take place around 20 or 30 planes in the military. This upgrade involves the installation of improved turbojet engines with an afterburner chamber NK-25. Such engines, developing traction up to 50 thousand pounds, will have full life and can be operated for a long time. In addition, the updated “Backfires” will receive improved on-board electronic equipment similar to that used in the Tu-160М2 project. Finally, as a result of the modernization, the range of compatible weapons will be expanded.
The editors of The National Interest believe that such a development is possible when Tu-22М3 airplanes will be gradually decommissioned. Russia plans to resume construction of Tu-160М2 bombers and create a large fleet of such vehicles. Fifty new cars will have obvious advantages over the existing Tu-22М3 in solving various problems, including when attacking ground targets.
Also, the success of the front bombers Su-22 may affect the further fate of the Tu-3М34. This aircraft has high performance, is equipped with modern onboard equipment and carries advanced weapons, and thanks to this it can successfully attack most European targets that would have previously been the target for strikes of Tu-22М3.
As a result, the development of Russian attack aircraft has not the most pleasant results for the Tu-22M3. These machines on a non-alternative basis can occupy only a relatively narrow tactical niche. The authors of the article note that this fact can explain the main feature of the planned modernization: only half of the available will be updated fleet.
In its niche, in the matter of delivering missile strikes to ship groups from large distances, the Tu-22М3 has few competitors. During the Cold War, the Soviet Backfire X-22 bombers were a real curse for the US naval forces. The air armada as part of the set of Tu-22М3 could inflict the most serious blow to the ship group.
To combat such a threat, the American side had to work out new tactics and create new weapons. So, the strategy Outer Air Battle was proposed, which included the interception of aircraft and missiles at a great distance from the ships. It played an important role ships with Aegis systems and carrier-based fighter Grumman F-14 Tomcat, armed with long-range air-to-air missiles AIM-54 Phoenix. The American command hoped that ships and airplanes could work together to counter the attack of Soviet bombers.
The modern air fleet of Tu-22М3 aircraft belonging to the Russian Federation is a small part of the force that the Soviet Union had several decades ago. However, as a result of upgrading technology with the installation of new electronic systems and the use of modern weapons, even such a reduced group will be a serious threat, even if not as numerous as in the past. As a result, a potential adversary in the face of the United States has new problems.
The situation is further aggravated by the events of recent years that have taken place in the United States. The deck aircraft of the American naval forces have not long been used by the F-14 fighters and their AIM-54 missiles. The result of the rejection of such equipment and weapons was the "atrophy" of the fleet's anti-aircraft capabilities. As a result, even the quantitatively modest potential of the Russian Tu-22М3М bombers may pose a particular danger to the aircraft carrier group. The potential of the X-32 rocket, which shows high speed and maneuverability, is enhanced by the updated Russian aircraft.
The editors of The National Interest believe that the US naval forces still have the opportunity to protect their aircraft carriers from the impact of the Russian Tu-22М3М aircraft and X-32 missiles. The response to such a threat will be carrier-based fighters Boeing F / A-18E / F Super Hornet, as well as cruisers and destroyers equipped with Aegis complexes. However, in a real operation will not do without certain problems.
The authors of the article suggest that the US Navy can hardly count on the interception of Russian Backfire aircraft before they launch their missiles. The reason for this is the insufficient flight speed of the F / A-18E / F fighter jets, which simply do not have time to reach the interception line. For this reason, ships and aircraft will have to deal with already launched X-32 missiles.
It is proposed to shoot down X-32 flying at safe distances from ships using AIM-120В AMRAAM aircraft missiles and ship-based SM-6 anti-aircraft missiles. The authors call these missiles excellent and believe that they are capable of hitting approaching Russian weapons.
However, as noted by The National Interest, the problems for the US Navy are not only in the modernized Russian aircraft with the latest weapons. Currently, the People’s Liberation Army of China is deploying similar systems in the Pacific. They will also be a danger to the American fleet.
Ultimately, by the thirties, the United States Navy will be forced to develop an entirely new carrier-based fighter, whose task will be to protect aircraft carriers and other ships from modern anti-ship weapons of leading foreign countries.
The events of the recent past and the foreseeable future led the editors of The National Interest to not very optimistic conclusions. It turns out that the threat in the form of a probable enemy bombers, absent for a quarter of a century, is returning.
It is noteworthy that the Russian Tu-22М3 bomber and its upgraded version М3М is not the first time that the topic of the publication of The National Interest, expressing fears. For example, at the end of December last year, an article appeared titled “The Tu-22M3: The Russian Bomber of the World Truly Fears” - “Tu-22М3: Russian bomber that the world really fears.” It considered story of this aircraft, its influence on American doctrine and recent news about the combat use and further development of technology.
Shortly before the publication of this article in the Russian press, there were reports of the completion of the design of the updated Tu-22М3М. In addition, then some technical features of this project became known. It was alleged that repair and modernization of the front-line equipment would begin in 2018. Particular attention of The National Interest naturally attracted data on the modernization of the weapons complex.
The publication wrote that some aspects of modernization aimed at preserving the broad "traditional" capabilities of the bomber. In particular, the system "Hephaestus" will allow him to effectively use free-falling bombs. At the same time, the possibility of the Tu-22M3М working as a carrier of strategic weapons was provided. For example, in terms of on-board equipment, such an aircraft is unified with the strategic missile carrier Tu-160М2.
It was indicated that a new cruise missile X-22 with a firing range of up to 3 km will be included in the Tu-32М600М munitions nomenclature. The possibility of using a promising X-SD, allegedly being developed on the basis of the existing X-55, was also mentioned. Such a product with a range of up to 2000 km, presumably, could carry a special warhead. As a result, the Tu-22М3М aircraft, having received such weapons, could replenish the fleet of strategic bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
At the beginning of June, however, the concern of foreign authors was connected only with the X-32 multi-purpose missile, suitable for attacking ships and ground targets. Their pessimistic mood intensified due to the modernization of aircraft carrying such weapons. Judging by the available data, the Tu-22М3М bomber strike complex and the X-32 cruise missile can indeed be particularly dangerous for ship formations or land facilities.
There is reason to expect that in the very near future new articles may appear in the foreign press with fears in the context of the Tu-22М3М project. The fact is that a few weeks ago it became known about the desire of the Russian Ministry of Defense to return to operation the outdated X-22 missiles. Such products in the past were the basis of the Tu-22М3 bomber ammunition, but later lost their potential. They are physically outdated, their onboard equipment has not met the current requirements for a long time, and the operation was extremely difficult, as a result of which the missiles were used less and less.
According to recent reports, several dozen X-22 missiles will be removed from storage and will be sent for modernization. They will retain the airframe and power plant, and the standard onboard equipment will give way to new instruments. With this modernization, modern control systems can be used, created for the latest X-32 rocket. As a result, aerospace forces will receive a specific weapon, combining flight data of an outdated missile and combat capabilities of a completely new one. It is obvious that such weapons will attract the attention of foreign experts and will definitely become the “hero” of publications in the press.
Russian armed forces are developing due to the appearance of new types of weapons and equipment, as well as through various modernization projects. The next program of updating the existing aircraft will soon lead to the appearance of Tu-22М3М bombers armed with the new X-32 rocket. As the National Interest rightly points out, the threat to the ships of the likely enemy has returned. And along with it, there were also risks for land facilities.
The article “Meet Russia's Tu-22M3 Backfire, The Bomber That Could Sink a Navy Aircraft Carrier”:
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