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Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire

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Tu-22M Backfire


tu22m02.jpg (65095 bytes)NATO reporting name: 'Backfire'


Twin-engined variable geometry medium bomber and maritime reconnaissance/attack aircraft.


"NATO revealed the existence of a Soviet variable geometry bomber programme autumn 1969; prototype observed July 1970 on the ground near Kazan manufacturing plant, western Russia; confirmed subsequently as twin-engined design by Tupolev OKB; at least two prototypes built, with first flight estimated 1969, up to 12 pre-production models by early 1973, for development testing, weapons trials and evaluation; production has been 30 a year.


Capable of performing nuclear strike, conventional attack and anti-ship missions; low-level penetration features ensure better survivability than for earlier Tupolev bombers; not expected to become ALCM carriers, although used for development launches, deployment of RKV-500B (AS-16 'Kickback') short-range attack missiles in Tu-22Ms has increased significantly their weapon carrying capability. Low/mid-wing configuration; large-span fixed center-section and two outer steering sleeves variable from 20 degrees to 65 degrees sweepback; no anhedral or dihedral, but wing section so thin that outer panels flex considerably in flight; leading-edge fence towards tip of section-section each side; basically circular fuselage forward of wings, with ogival dielectric nosecone; fuselage-fuselage faired into rectangular section air intake trunks, each with large splitter plate and assumed to embody complex variable geometry ramps; no external area ruling of trunks; all-swept tail surfaces, with large dorsal fin.


Retractable tricycle type; each mainwheel bogie comprises three pairs of wheels in tandem, with two forward pairs farther apart than rear pairs; bogies pivot inwards from vestigial fairing under section-section on each side into bottom of fuselage.


Two unidentified turbofans, side by side in rear fuselage, each more than 2500 kg with afterburning. Fuel is in integral tanks in wing central section and steering sleeves and in fuselage tanks.


Pilot and co-pilot side by side, under upward opening gull-wing doors hinged on centreline; two crew members further aft, as indicated by position of windows between flight deck and air intakes.


Large missile targeting and navigation radar (NATO 'Down Beat') inside dielectric nosecone; radar ('Box Tail') for tail turret, above guns. Fairing with flat glazed front panel under front fuselage, for video camera to provide visual assistance for weapon aiming from high altitude. Very advanced ECM and ECCM; infrared missile approach warning sensor above fuselage aft of cockpit; eight chaff/flare multiple dispensers in bottom of each engine duct between wingroot and tailplane, another in each tailplane root fairing.


Max offensive weapon load three Kh-22 (NATO AS-4 'Kitchen') air-to-surface missiles, one semi-recessed under fuselage-fuselage, one under fixed section-section panel of each wing; or 24,000 kg (52,910 lb) of conventional bombs or mines, half carried internally and half on racks under wings and engine air intake trunks. Internal bombs can be replaced by rotary launcher for six Kh-15P (AS-16 'Kickback') short-range attack missiles, with four more underwing as alternative to Kh-22s. Normal weapon load is single Kh-22 or 12,000 kg (26,455 lb) of bombs. Typical loads two FAB-3000, eight FAB-1500, 42 FAB-500 or 69 FAB-250 or -100 bombs (figures indicated weight in kg), or eight 1500 kg or 18 500 kg mines. One GSh-23 twin-barrel 23 mm gun, with barrels superimposed, in radar directed tail mounting."



 fully spread: 34.28 m (112 ft 5 3/4 in)

fully swept

 23.30 m (76 ft 5 1/2 in)

Wing aspect ratio

 fully spread: 6.40

fully swept


Length overall

 42.46 m (139 ft 3 3/4 in)

Height overall

 11.05 m (36 ft 3 in)

Weapons bay

 Length approx 7.00 m (22 ft 11 1/2 in)


 approx 1.80 m (5 ft 10 3/4 in)


Max weapon load

 24,000 kg (52,910 lb)

Fuel load

 approx 50,000 kg (110,230 lb)

Max wing loading (without JATO)

20 degrees sweep

 675.45 kg/m/2 (138.34 lb/sq ft)

65 degrees sweep

 705.35 kg/m/2 (144.45 lb/sq ft)

Max power loading (without JATO)

253 kg/kN (2.48 lb/lb st)


Max level speed

 at high altitude

Mach 1.88 (1080 knots; 2000 km/h; 1242 mph)

at low altitude

Mach 0.86 (567 knots; 1050 km/h; 652 mph)

Nominal cruising speed at height

485 knots (900 km/h; 560 mph)

T-O speed

 200 knots (370 km/h; 230 mph)

Normal landing speed

 154 knots (285 km/h; 177 mph)

Service ceiling

 133,00 m (43,635 ft)

g limit










MAX WING LOAD (kg/m/2)






T-O RUN (m)




(source: Jane's)

Tupolev Tu-22M

Country of origin. Russia

Type. Strategic and maritime strike/reconnaissance bomber

Powerplants. Tu-22M-3 - Two 245.2kN (55,115lb) with afterburning Kuznetsov/KKBM NK-25 turbofans.

Performance.- Tu-22M-3 - Max speed at high altitude Mach 1.88 or 2000km/h (1080kt), max speed at low level Mach 0.86 or 1050km/h (567kt), normal cruising speed at altitude 900km/h (485kt). Service ceiling 43,635ft. Supersonic combat radius with a 12,000kg (26,455lb) weapons load 1500 to 1850km (810 to 1000nm). Subsonic combat radius with max weapons load hi-hi-hi 2200km (1190nm). Subsonic combat radius with 12,000kg (26,455lb) bomb load lo-lo-lo 1500 to 1665km (810 to 900nm), or hi-lo-hi 2410km (1300nm).

Weights: Tu-22M-3 - Empty 54,000kg (119,050[b), max takeoff 124,000kg (273,370lb), rocket assisted takeoff 126,400kg (278,660lb).

Dimensions. Tu-22M-3 - Wing span wings extended 34.28m (112ft 6in), span wings swept 23.30m (76ft 6in), length overall 42.46m (139ft 4in), height 11.05m (36ft 3in). Wing area wings extended 183.6ml (1976.1 sq ft), wing area wings swept 175.8M2 (1 892.4sq ft). Accommodation. Crew of four with pilot and copilot side by side, with navigator and weapons systems operator behind them.

Armament: One GS11-23 twin barrel 23mm cannon in the tail. Can carry 24,000kg (52,910lb) of conventional bombs or mines in bomb bay, or six Kh-15P (AS-16 'Kickback') ASMs on a rotary launcher in bomb bay and four underwing, or three Kh-22 (AS-4 'Kitchen') ASMs, one semi recessed under fuselage and one on each underwing hardpoint.

Operators. Russia, Ukraine.

History. The Tu-22M was conceived as a swing wing conversion of the Tu-22 but evolved into essentially an all new aircraft.

Tupolev first looked at fitting the Tu-22 with swing wings in 1961. Wind tunnel tests revealed that fitting the Tu-22 with swing wings and a minimum of other changes would almost double combat radius while halving field length. Design work on this aircraft, designated Tu-22M, began in 1962, however Tupolev took the opportunity to substantially redesign the basic Tu-22 to even further improve performance. Apart from the swing wings the other key change was the powerplants, two Kuznetsov NK-20 afterburning turbofans mounted in the rear of the fuselage. The engines were fed by two F-4 style intakes with variable splitter plates. The nose was redesigned, while new six wheel main undercarriage units retracted into the fuselage.

The first Tu-22M-O prototype, a much converted Tu-22, first flew on August 30 1964, although the west did not identify the new bomber until September 1969. The NATO reporting name 'Backfire-A' was subsequently adopted. Production was of the further redesigned Tu-22M-2 (with a new nav/attack radar) and did not begin until 1972.

About 200 Tu-22M-2 'Backfire-Bs' were built before production switched to the Tu-22M-3, which first flew in 1980. The Tu-22M-3 is powered by two increased thrust NK-25 turbofans fed by new wedge shaped air inlets, and introduced a new multimode radar in a reprofiled nose and has an increased max takeoff weight. The Tu-22MR is an ECM or EW aircraft, with about 10 in service.

Almost 500 Tu-22Ms of all models have been built."

(source: International Directory of Military Aircraft 1998-1999)

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