Far aviation The Russian Air Force is waiting for a modernized model of the Tu-90M22 supersonic bomber, which has been developed from the beginning of the 3s by the Tupolev Design Bureau, which is capable of using the latest X-32 missiles. But it is unlikely to receive it this year. In arbitration courts of various instances, proceedings are ongoing with claims of hundreds of millions of rubles between the customer (Ministry of Defense), the developer (Design Bureau Tupolev) and the manufacturer (engineering design bureau "Rainbow"). While the trial and the case, the existing Tu-22M3 bombers (according to NATO classification - Backfire) are becoming obsolete.
Long-range supersonic bomber with variable geometry wing Tu-22M were created at the end of 70-s and armed with cruise missiles X-22. The planes were armed not only with the Air Force, but also with the naval rocket-carrying aircraft (MRA) of the Navy. The main objective of the MPA was to fight against carrier-assault groups (AUG), amphibious units, groups of surface ships. Modification МХNUMX is a further development of the Tu-3М.
"Aircraft carrier killer" in Afghanistan
As a military historian told the Military Industrial Courier newspaper, stories The Navy Maxim Tokarev, sea-launched missile aircraft and Tu-22М3 aircraft were an important component of the anti-aircraft doctrine of the USSR.
“According to the doctrine, one detected AUG provided for a combat sortie of one division (MRAD), that is, up to 80 attack aircraft of the Tu-16 and Tu-22M type. In the Pacific and North fleets there were two divisions each, and in case of war they were reinforced by one division from long-range aviation, ”Tokarev said.
According to him, the Tu-22М3 is often called the “aircraft carrier killer”, but this is an incorrect epithet. It is more correct to call the whole division so, and a single “Backfire” is useless against a carrier group.
“X-22 had two advantages. First, the missiles exchanged information with each other during the flight, it was enough to launch them, indicating the minimum set of target parameters. The second is high survivability in front of air defense weapons. According to calculations, one X-22 with constructive protection maintained the 20-mm Vulcan-Falanks anti-aircraft artillery complex, hit one Sparrow missile type AIM-7 or two-three AIM-9 missiles “Sidedinder”, explained the source. editions.
So without having participated in the destruction of aircraft carriers, "Bekfayry" took an active part in the war in Afghanistan. The high-tech sighting system Tu-22М3 based on radar, sharpened to detect large targets such as a ship, could not detect small targets such as a machine and even entire villages. Therefore, the missile carrier hit the squares, filled up with tons of free-falling bombs.
As a result of the war in Afghanistan, the USSR Ministry of Defense realized that the Tu-22М3 was a highly specialized aircraft, capable of relatively efficiently destroying enemy aircraft carriers, but not applicable to other tasks. In addition, at the end of the 80-s, the capabilities of the American Navy's air defense systems, which received Ticonderoga type URO cruisers with the Aegis integrated air defense system, increased many times. Therefore, a modern missile system was required for the breakthrough of the air defense of the warrant and the guaranteed defeat of a large surface ship.
According to the new requirements of the military in 1989, the upgraded Tu-22М3 should hit even small ground targets with the help of free-falling bombs from a height of at least eight thousand meters. It needs to carry modernized air-based cruise missiles, which, unlike their predecessors X-22, are capable of penetrating air defense systems at a distance of up to a thousand kilometers. The onboard aiming and navigation complex, the weapon system were to be replaced, and the installation of a new, more powerful NK-32 engine was also planned.
The modernization work that began in 1990, called “Adaptation,” was prevented by the collapse of the USSR. Before the production brought only a modification of the Tu-22М4 with new navigation equipment and engines NK-32. To arm the bomber was planned supersonic cruise missile X-32. It was created on the basis of the X-22 and was tested at the end of the 80-s in the 929-th State Flight Test Center (GLITS). There is still no reliable information about the serial production of the new model and the number of cars transferred to the Air Force. The project “Adaptation” itself has been delayed by 20 for over 50 years and has not been completed yet.
The lawsuit in one hundred million rubles
On the issue of modernization and re-equipment of the Tu-22М3 air force and naval aviation of the Navy returned to the beginning of the 2000-s, when most X-22 missiles expired storage and operation. To re-equip the Backfire fleet with a new X-32, it was necessary to upgrade the sighting system and weapon system. But the work dragged on. In 2008, in the Transcaucasian war, Tu-22М3 attacked Georgian airfields with ordinary free-fall bombs, not cruise missiles. As a result, the Air Force lost one bomber from the 52 Guards Heavy Bomber Regiment. "Backfire" had to fall from 12 to four thousand meters and he got into the enemy's air defense zone. The commander of the aircraft, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Koventsov, was missing, the second pilot, Major Vyacheslav Malkov, ejected and was captured.
Anton Lavrov, one of the authors of the book "Tanks August ", dedicated to the Russian-Georgian conflict, told the newspaper" VPK "that then the Tu-22M3 was used to deliver massive bombing strikes at stationary objects:" Backfire "carries bombs several times more than the front-line bomber Su-24 or attack aircraft Su-25 10. Bombers are forced to drop from a safe height of 12-25 thousand meters to four thousand, otherwise, due to the dispersion of free-falling bombs, they cannot get into the target area. But even dropping to dangerous heights, the aircraft could not fulfill the tasks assigned to them. For example, at Kopitnari airfield, the runways were damaged in three places, which would not have prevented the Georgian Su-XNUMX from taking off and landing if necessary. ”
As a result of the August 2008 war, work on the modernization of the Tu-22М3 fleet resumed. The Tupolev Design Bureau, which received good funding, planned a phased modernization. At the first stage (by the end of 2011), modify “Backfire” to apply the upgraded X-32 rocket, bring it to state tests. Using the results obtained, at the second stage, create a deeply modernized bomber under the symbol Tu-22М3М and put in the Air Force up to 2020, 30 new machines of this type.
During the first stage of the ICB Raduga, which developed the X-32 missiles, was to conduct flight, flight design and state tests of its product. But only in June, the 2010 of the Tupolev was able to prepare documentation on the upgraded bomber for coordination with the Ministry of Defense, although in the autumn of that year the upgraded aircraft was supposed to fly and launch missiles. The delay in agreeing to derail the timing of the readiness of the X-32 rocket, they were moved to the end of the 2012. Not having the necessary documentation from the Tupolev Design Bureau, Raduga suspended 1 from January 2011 on its product.
The project was resumed only in 2012, and X-32 successfully passed the flight and state tests, was recommended for adoption as a weapon of the modernized Tu-22М3 bomber. That's just the carrier itself has not yet been lifted into the air. A paradoxical situation has arisen: the missile has been adopted for service, but there is no aircraft for it. Although, according to the 2008 contract, the whole test complex as part of the upgraded Tu-22М3 and Х-32 was to be tested.
Angered by this situation, the Ministry of Defense sent claims to the Tupolev Design Bureau. The management of the bureau, in turn, demanded fines against the ICB “Raduga”. Now all three parties are trying to collect from each other multi-million fines for disrupting the terms of the contract. 13 June 2013 of the Year The 9 th Moscow Arbitration Court denied the military department a lawsuit against Raduga for 103 million rubles.
Thus, the fate of the new “Backfire” is lost in the fog. As an informed source in the Air Force told the VK newspaper, by the end of this year the Tupolev Design Bureau must be protected by a pre-sketch project developed during the second stage of the Tu-22М3М program. “We are not yet satisfied with the cost of the proposed work and the timing, especially in connection with the problems at the first stage. So Tu-22М3М is still on paper, ”he said.
There is no answer to the question what kind of on-board radio-electronic equipment the upgraded bomber will receive and what will be armed in addition to the X-32. At the very beginning of "Adaptation" in the 90-ies of the Ministry of Defense demanded a missile carrier under the X-32, which can use free-falling bombs with high accuracy. In 2008, these requirements were corrected, but what has changed remains for now closed information.
Not everything is so bad
After the transfer of naval naval missile regiments to its structure, the Air Force remained the sole owners of the Tu-22M fleet. Faced with the difficulties of modernization, the Air Force Commander-in-Chief turned to the firm Hephaestus and T, known for the successful restyling of the Su-24M.
The company is located in the suburban Zhukovsky. Back in 2008, as an initiative, she developed a specialized computing subsystem SVP-24-22 for her money, providing a single, autonomous aiming of the aircraft at the target with redirection in flight, as well as a group attack of the target with aircraft from different arbitrary directions. SVP-24-22 is compatible with the automated control system of aviation “Metronom”, successfully tested at the Kavkaz-2012 exercises.
In 2012, the Ministry of Defense entered into an agreement with Hephaestus and T for the additional equipment of the front-mounted Tu-22М3 system SVP-24-22. The flight personnel have such cars got the nickname “Aggregated”. Currently, about a dozen cars have been upgraded. “SVP-24-22 allows ground targets to be hit with ordinary free-fall bombs at a distance of 30 – 40 kilometers with high accuracy. Having received the exact coordinates of the target, the complex, taking into account the parameters and coordinates of the aircraft, calculates the optimal trajectory for the dumping, displays the board on the course and drops the bomb, ”told the military-industrial complex officer of the Air Force Commander-in-Chief who is familiar with the situation. According to him, in the media very often confused Tu-22М3, equipped with SVP-24-22, and Tu-22М3М.
“The last model is still only on paper, and the M3 with the Gefest complex is not related to the works of the Tupolev Design Bureau,” the source said.
The backfires already equipped with SVP-24-22 will also be refined using X-32, but due to ongoing legal proceedings, the transfer of documentation is delayed.
Do I need a modernized Tu-22M
According to the independent military expert, the chief editor of the MilitaryRussia information project Dmitry Kornev, two tasks are now being solved - upgrading the aircraft and weapons systems. “With the right approach, this will allow a very budgetary at times to strengthen the potential of a group of several dozen Tu-22М3. If the third task is resolved - setting up a new missile system on the renewed aircraft and returning the in-flight refueling system, then we will receive a multiple increase in the strategic aviation fleet, ”Kornev believes.
Maxim Tokarev, for his part, argues that the upgraded Tu-22М3 will not solve the task of destroying aircraft carrier groups: “A single plane or a squadron will not break through the AUG warrant. The question is in quantity. To accomplish the task, it is worthwhile to strike 60 – 70 simultaneously with supersonic cruise missiles, that is, to revive the regiments and divisions of the MPA. ”
Anton Lavrov noted that the Tu-22М3 with corrected aviation means of destruction such as the American JDAM bombs alone could have destroyed a target such as the Georgian Kopitnari airfield. "American supersonic bomber B-1B, equipped with the sighting container" Sniper ", became"weapons selection of the US Air Force to support ground forces. Able to hit even small targets with bombs with television and laser guidance systems from a height of 10 thousands of meters, the B-1B was actively used in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, ”added Lavrov.
Sniper complexes and the ability to retrofit with strategic means make the B-1В a highly efficient and multifunctional strike weapon in a high degree of combat readiness, although it is also obsolete by formal signs, like our Backfire. It is not by chance that the financing of В-1В park remains at the same high level, despite the numerous proposals by the US Congress to sequester expenses.
So the failure of the Tupolev Design Bureau leaves an alternative - equipping the Tu-22 with the SVP-24-22 complexes. If it is possible to retrofit the X-32 missile bombers and the target indication system for the sighting system, to overhaul the engines and airframe resource, then Backfire will come close to the US B-1B in combat capabilities.