26 March 2016 on Cyrill Sokolov’s (Falcon) publication on Military Review: "Tu-22M3: it's time to retireI want to say right away - I have great respect for Cyril and to the fact that he found it possible to publish, albeit a rather controversial, but very interesting article, about which quite a few copies were broken during the discussion. Unfortunately, not all participants the discussions turned out to be mature enough to stay within the limits of decency and not to slip into their comments until the direct insults of the author and other visitors to the site. In my opinion, any publication of the author in which a reasoned attempt is made to analyze on a particular issue worthy of respect, regardless of whether you agree with its content or not. In any case, everyone who is registered on the Military Review has the opportunity to write an article-answer in which he can try to argue the arguments of the author, moreover Such publications are welcomed by the site administration.
So, in the recent past, Cyril wrote a response article: "F-15E vs. SU-34. Response article"for publication:"F-15E vs. SU-34. Who is better? ", in which he outlined his vision on this issue. I’ll tell you a little secret, I hope Kirill will forgive me for this. Despite the accusations of unprofessionalism made to the author by some readers, Cyril is quite savvy in aviation subject. At one time, he graduated from the rather prestigious "Samara State Aerospace University named after Academician S.P. Koroleva (National Research University). ”
And although my basic education lies in a somewhat different plane, I will try to argue with Kirill regarding his vision of the prospects for the Russian long-range bomber Tu-22М3. Let's start in order ...
“Now they are fighter-bombers. They can effectively hit both ground targets and stand up for themselves. The reduction in the number of classic interceptors or fighters began actively with the departure from the scene of the USSR. Now there are no serious fighters in the sky, so modern cars are trying to make more versatile. For example, F / A-18SH, F-16, F-35, F-15SE - all fighter-bombers. At its core, to summarize roughly, they are similar to Su-34, Mig-35. ”
A very controversial, in my opinion, thought. Universalization is largely a necessary measure, caused by the desire to save money on the maintenance of a fleet of combat aircraft and the training of pilots. The effectiveness of a multipurpose fighter's actions when performing shock missions can hardly be compared with the effectiveness of a specialized front-line bomber. Thus, a fairly modern MiG-35 fighter will never surpass the old-fashioned Su-24M in percussion capabilities. Moreover, when performing percussion tasks, loaded to the surface with bombs, missiles and fuel outboard tanks F / A-18SH, F-16, F-35, F-15SE will not be able to withstand Su-27M, Su-35С and even MiG-31. Similarly, our Su-34 front-line bombers will be vulnerable to the F-15C and F-22A rocket attacks. It is doubtful that a pair of TGS missiles suspended under a fighter-bomber for self-defense in close combat can change anything. It should be remembered that modern air combat is becoming more and more distant, and the one who succeeds in seeing the enemy before and before making an aimed launch of missiles wins in it. In other words, with other things being equal, the one who has more advanced radar and long-range missiles has the advantage. These advantages are just possessed by “serious fighters” - fighters of air superiority.
“There was also a separate class of more classic bombers. Such as B-2, B-52, Tu-95, Tu-22М3, Tu-160, etc. Their main disadvantage is that they cannot stand up for themselves in air combat, but there are some advantages as well. ”
There are, of course, a lot of advantages, the main one, of course, is the possibility of striking conventional and nuclear munitions at a range inaccessible to tactical and carrier-based aircraft, which, in fact, is the raison d'être of long-range bomber aircraft. Long-range bombers are extremely flexible means of warfare, provided they have an appropriate range of weapons, they are able to perform the widest range of tasks, from dropping cast-iron over areas to delivering remote strikes with guided high-precision ammunition at land and sea targets. The opinion that bombers can be fully replaced by cruise and ballistic missiles is untenable. Unlike a rocket, a long-range bomber is capable of carrying combat duty in the air, barraging near the potential target. In addition, a bomber sent to a combat mission can always be withdrawn before dropping bombs in the event of a change in the situation, but this number will not pass with a launched missile.
Do not think that the "classic bomber" are easy prey for fighters. Of course, heavy bombers are best not to encounter fighters at all, but they are not so defenseless. In addition to the traditional cannon defensive armament for domestic bombers, all modern long-range bombers are equipped with REB complexes and automatic weapons for shooting thermal and passive radar jammers. Targeting of a defensive artillery system Tu-22М3 at a target is carried out using a combination of radar and optical equipment, which allows timely detection of targets in the rear hemisphere. In addition, the UKU-9А-502М guided stern gun ammunition with the 23-mm GSH-23М gun (firing rate to 4000 beats per minute) includes special jamming infrared and anti-radar projectiles.
Gun fodder defensive installation of a Tu-22М3 bomber
Airborne complexes of radio-electronic jamming are also capable of delivering a lot of trouble to the enemy. Thus, in the second half of 80, Tu-95MS bombers with new REP equipment in our country, after a series of exercises, earned the reputation of being an "non-attacking" aircraft among air defense crews and pilots of interceptors.
Of course, over the years, much has changed, and the fighter aircraft of “likely partners” received new interceptors with improved radar and radar, and we, due to the collapse of the USSR and the “reform” of the economy and armed forces, began new versions of the Tu-22М4 and М5 and did not take place. But our developers and the industry, despite numerous difficulties, have demonstrated the ability to create modern effective jamming systems. The question, as always, rests on finances and political will. Let not all, but at least part of the long-range Tu-22М3 bombers can be fully equipped with modern electronic countermeasures, which would allow with a high degree of probability to fight off single interceptors.
Next Cyril writes:
“So why do we need long-range aviation when the whole west refused it?” ... in actual combat, the Tu-22М3 with the X-22 missile was not specifically noted. Dear unique bomber basically served as a simple bomber. The ability to carry FAB was rather a pleasant advantage than the main task. Often Tu-22М3 was used in Afghanistan, in places where front bombers had a hard time reaching out. Especially noteworthy is the moment when the Tu-22М3 "leveled off" the mountains of Afghanistan during the withdrawal of Soviet troops, covering our caravans. And all this time the most complicated and intelligent machine was used as a “pig-iron” distribution. It should also be mentioned about the use of Tu-22М3 in Chechnya, it is particularly interesting that he dropped light bombs. And, of course, the apogee is the use of Tu-22М3 in Georgia, which ended very sadly. "
By and large, the West, and, more precisely, the United States, never abandoned long-range (strategic) aviation. Bombers, originally created for the delivery of thermonuclear bombs, were used in local conflicts throughout their life cycle. It is known that the exploitation of the B-52H is extended by at least another 15 years, for the “stealth” of the B-2, new types of ammunition are being developed, and the B-1В, which received a highly conventional status of a “non-nuclear” bomber, is actively used in combat operations around the world . It is clear that there is no direct analogue to our Tu-22М3 in the West and, most likely, it will never be. But what are we to the USA and NATO, why should we be guided by their views and military doctrine? "Backfire" was not created from scratch, before our air force exploited the Tu-16 and Tu-22, and the military clearly imagined what they wanted to get.
Cyril’s emphasis on the X-22 missiles is understandable. Of course, at this time, the X-22 RCC does not correspond to modern realities in terms of immunity, and the LREs operating on toxic fuel and an aggressive oxidizer are anachronism. On the other hand, what prevents to adapt existing modern cruise missiles to the Tu-22М3 bombers, of which a lot has been created in our country? In addition, missiles have never been the only "payload" of a bomber; the Tu-22М3 armament also includes free-fall bombs and sea mines of various types.
Of course, transporting An-12 transport vehicles to tens of tons of large-caliber mines in Afghanistan, transport workers, by the way, also did this, but it wouldn’t involve trained crews of bomber regiments to take part in the fighting, even if it was to dump “cast iron” unforgivable mistake. This of course does not demonstrate the inferiority of the Tu-22M3 as a banal bomber, but rather, on the contrary, shows its ability to successfully perform the entire range of tasks.
As for Chechnya, there Tu-22М3, patrolling over the line of combat contact at night, provided invaluable assistance to our troops, illuminating the battlefield and the neighborhood with lighting bombs. It is clear that hammering nails with a microscope is not the most rewarding task. The question is whether the plane or its crew is to blame for this if the higher command sets inappropriate tasks for them? In any case, the bombers once again demonstrated the ability to successfully operate in the most difficult conditions.
During the Russian-Georgian conflict in August 2008, Tu-22М3 bombers attacked the bases of the Georgian army, bombed airfields and enemy troop concentrations. One aircraft from the 52 13th Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, based at Shaykovka airfield, at night from 8 on August 9, at an altitude of about 6000 m was shot down by the Buk-М1 air defense system from Ukraine. The wreckage of the plane, hit by a direct hit by an anti-aircraft missile, fell near the village of Kareli, in the territory controlled by the Georgian troops at that moment. Of the four crew members, only one survived - the co-pilot Major Vyacheslav Malkov, he was captured. The crew commander, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Koventsov, as well as Majors Viktor Pryadkin and Igor Nesterov, were killed. The most reliable information is that the shot down Tu-22М3, which closed the group of 9 bombers, in addition to launching a bomb strike, also carried out photo control of the bombing results. The presence of enemy air defense systems in the area was not expected.
Satellite image of Google earth: the funnels at the airport Kopitnari, remaining after the raid of the group Tu-22М3
In fairness it should be said that the reason for the loss of the long-range bomber of the Russian Air Force was: illiterate planning of a combat departure, standard actions, poor target reconnaissance, lack of radio-electronic suppression of the enemy's radar and air defense missile systems. What doesn’t mean that Tu-22М3 has become obsolete and it’s time to send them “to retire”, was once again used by a “microscope” for nailing nails.
The main drawbacks of the “Backfires” to Kirill are the lack of an in-flight refueling system on the plane, which was dismantled from all combat bombers of this type according to the provisions of the START treaty. And the impossibility of flying at extremely low altitude in automatic mode. However, the flight range of the Tu-22М3 was quite enough to bomb the militant positions in Syria, which frontline aircraft could not do, operating from Russian territory, and the air defense breakthrough for WWI mainly depends on the level of crew professional training. In the past, Tu-22B bombers, which were controlled by Libyan and Iraqi pilots, much less adapted to low-altitude flights, made throws to the WWI many times during the performance of combat missions, so that this was not an overwhelming task for the Tu-22М3.
Of course, the same Tu-160 and, moreover, the upgraded Tu-160M have a much higher impact potential. But the trouble is that the White Swans are very rare birds in our Air Force and are used to accomplish the tasks of nuclear deterrence. Pouring "cast iron" from them will be even less rational than with Tu-22М3.
In my opinion, the principle of necessary reasonable sufficiency should be applied to existing Tu-22М3. Production of these bombers ceased in 1992. Given the fact that the 90-2000-e years did not fly very much, and a significant part of the machines remained a very solid resource. Of course, in many ways obsolete avionics requires replacement. But the experience of upgrading part of the bombers with the installation of the aim-navigation complex SVP-24-22 demonstrated the possibility of a significant increase in the combat potential of the aircraft at relatively low costs. It is clear that the replacement of the NK-25 engines with more powerful and economical ones in the near future does not shine, as well as the installation of an in-flight refueling system. But, as is well known: “In the absence of a stamp, we write in idle time,” in any case, it is quite possible to supplement the range of weapons of modernized vehicles with modern high-precision weapons.
Before combat use in Syria, many Western experts were quite critical of the “Backfires”. However, after the bombs from Russian long-range bombers fell on the heads of the militants of the Islamic state, the tone of the statements changed dramatically. On this occasion, once again made a "respected military commentator" Dave Majumdar.
The Tu-160 and Tu-95MS in the first combat use by themselves "showed power", but most of the destroyed targets fall on the Tu-22М3. The United States does not have a direct analogue to the Tu-22М3, which, by the way, is almost three decades old. The closest competitors include the B-1B Lancer, transformed into a carrier of tactical, rather than nuclear, after the end of the Cold War weapons, as well as the decommissioned strategic bomber FB-111.
A few years ago, Chinese representatives probed the ground for the purchase of a Tu-22М3 and a package of technical documentation for their production. Fortunately, common sense won this time, and the next “lucrative deal” with China did not take place. In the past, the Chinese accused a lot of things, including industrial espionage and numerous cases of unlicensed copying of equipment and weapons. But in the absence of pragmatism and the desire to throw money down the drain - never. It is difficult to imagine that the Chinese comrades express a desire to buy full-scale samples and drawings of a deliberately outdated and unpromising combat aircraft.
The Tu-22М3 bombers are still in many ways unique vehicles capable of performing both tactical and strategic tasks. Being equipped with modern cruise missiles, they can be an effective means of neutralizing the US missile defense system in Romania, the Czech Republic and Poland. Not possessing an intercontinental range, Tu-22М3 bombers are actually capable of carrying out strategic tasks in a European theater of operations. The very fact of the presence of machines of this class in our Air Force is a powerful deterrent. If necessary, no one will understand how modern this or that aircraft, and to what generation it belongs. The pilots of the bombers will certainly fulfill their military duty with honor, even if it is a one-way flight.
Separately, I want to say about the recent events, which are usually not mentioned in our media. In 2011, Naval Rocket-carrying Aviation (MRA) was liquidated in Russia. As is known, the main task of the MRA regiments, which were armed with missile carriers Tu-22М3, was the fight against American aircraft carrier groups. Until 2011, sea-launched missile carriers were based in the European North and the Far East. All conditionally serviceable (prepared for one-time distillation) aircraft of the Navy in 2011 were transferred to Long-Range Aviation. Machines that had minor malfunctions, but were unable to rise into the air, were mercilessly "recycled", which, of course, is a crime.
Killed by Tu-22М3 at Vozdvizhenka airfield near Ussuriisk
First of all, it affected naval Tu-22M3 at the Far Eastern airfields Vozdvizhenka near Ussuriysk and Kamenny Ruchey near Vanino. After that, American admirals, who traditionally feared our naval missile carriers, breathed a sigh of relief. It is clear that such a decision could not have been made without the knowledge of our top political leadership. Sometimes you can hear, they say, it was a forced measure due to a deficit of finance. However, just at this time, in the years of "rise from its knees" and "revival of its former power", our country spent huge funds on the implementation of "image projects" and opportunities for the maintenance, repair and modernization of naval aviation aircraft in the "well-fed" 2000s we had.
Satellite image of Google earth: Tu-22М3 bombers awaiting their turn for repairs and upgrades at Olenya airfield.
Now the permanently based airfields of the Tu-22М3 long-range bombers are the Shaykovka and Olenya airfields in the European part of the country. Most of the former naval rocket carriers are waiting for their turn for repairs and upgrades. Talk that “in case of anything” these cars will go to the Far East to repel the blows of the American AUG, do not stand up to scrutiny. As part of the weapons Tu-22М3 currently there are no effective anti-ship missiles and trained crews to solve this problem.
Anyway, we don’t have much choice. The latest events in the world demonstrate that those who do not have the ability to defend themselves can be torn apart at any moment under the pretext of protecting democracy and freedom. The proposal made by Cyril about the need for the early refusal of all Tu-22М3, so that the funds that are spent on their maintenance, went to the development of new modern attack aviation systems, in this case seems erroneous. Our country will inevitably have to spend resources, both on the maintenance of the existing fleet, and on the development of new bombers. Gone are the days when we easily sent for decommissioning still fully combat-ready cruise cars. Withdrawal of approximately 40 long-range bombers from the Air Force will significantly weaken our already not-too-great shock capabilities. In this situation, the refusal, albeit from not the newest long-range bombers, is capable of causing serious damage to the defense capability of our country.