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Tupolev Tu-105 / Tu-22


The Tu-22 'Blinder' was the first Soviet supersonic bomber design intended to replace the Tu-16. The Tu-22 original design was aimed at creating a bomber that could avoid contemporary fighter interceptors utilizing its high speed and altitude. The medium range Tu-22 would strike Anglo-American bomber bases and other NATO key targets including US Navy Carriers in Europe and Asia.

The Tupolev OKB-156 design bureau was already working on supersonic aircraft in 1950-1953. So on August 10 1954 official authorisation for a supersonic bomber was given by the government to Tupolev. By the end of 1955 a design was finished called Samolet 105 and selecting of the aircraft components began. In December 1957 the prototype of the Samolet 105 was completed and flight trials began with the first flight on 21 June 1958. A redesigned Samolet 105A prototype was built and would be powered by the new Kuznetsov NK-6 engines. However it was not ready in time, and the VD-7M engines were used instead.

The Tu-22 design feautres area ruling with a long, slender, tube-like fuselage with a sharp pointing nose and 52 degree swept-back wings with small LERXes. The aircraft was nicknamed 'Shilo' by its aircrew for its metallic, pointed shape. The two Dobrinin VD-7M engines are located in pods above the main body, one at either side of the tailplane. From 1965 onwards these were replaced by the improved Kolesov RD-7M2 engine. The layout improved the airflow into the engines, while minimizing the chance of debris sucked up from the ground. Downside of the design was the troublesome maintenance of the engines at this positions, the required reinforcement of the tail section and the forward section had to be longered because the center of gravity was at the rear of the aircraft. The main landing gear is retracted into seperate trailing-edge nacelles extended beyond the wing.

In order to decrease the frontal cross section of the design, the Tu-22 only had one pilot. The navigator sits in front and below the pilot and can only see below the aircraft. The communications/navigation/weapons officer occupies the rear seat which is behind the pilot and only can see thru the side windows. The crew would enter and exit the cabins by being raised and lowered in their K-22 ejection seats. The seats would fire downwards, making ejection during take off and landing impossible.

The first flight of the 105A took place on 7 September 1959 and was subsequently lost on 21 December 1959 during the seventh test flight.

Before the loss the government authorised production at State Aviation Plant No.22 in Kazan and replaced the Tu-16 production line. The first three series produced Tu-22 bombers were finished in July-August 1960 and used for more flight trials at Zhukhovskii. The first flight of a production Tu-22 was on 22 September 1960. Onwards until 1965 multiple upgrades were carried out to fix problems with flight control systems. Tu-22s were built with a 23mm cannon in the tail, aimed by a gunner in the forward fuselage using a TV camera. Later this was replaced by an electronic countermeasures system.


First production variant developed was the Tu-22A 'Blinder-A' which carried free-fall bombs. Because of the bomber role, the variant has often been referred to as Tu-22B. The payload depended on the mission, but could consist of 24 FAB-500 500kg (1,102 lb) bombs. The radar equipped was the surface-search Rubin-1A radar. However because of the trouble prone design and the increasing threat of Surface-to-Air Missiles only 15 Tu-22A were built. Most of which served only as test aircraft and trainer.

The aircraft was first revealed to the public on Aviation Day 1961 over Moscow. NATO originally codenamed it 'Bullshot', then 'Beauty' and finally 'Blinder'. The air force ordered concurrent production of the Tu-22B bomber variant and a reconnaissance aircraft designated Tu-22R. Initial production batch was planned to be 12 and 30 respectively, but this was trimmed back to seven and five. The Tu-22 carried up to 450 litres of pure grain alcohol to service its hydraulic and de-icing systems. The ground crews, who predictably drank a lot of it, nicknamed the Tu-22 the 'booze carrier'.

The Tu-22B bombers produced proved to be very trouble prone and were used primarily for training. Cockpir ergonomics were poor and the aircraft was very tiring to fly, even with autopilot. Even though the pilot's seat was offset, the central windscreen frame blocked the view during crosswind landing. They were accepted into service in September 1962 with the 43rd Combat Training Center (43 TSBP i PLS). After one year they were transferred to the 203rd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment of the 46th Air Army.

The Tu-22R 'Blinder-C' was the second variant, which was developed as a reconnaissance platform. Film camera was equipped in the nose and in the weapons bay. It retained the free-fall bombs capability, including the bomb sight and weapons control system and search radar and was also equipped with the Romb electronic intelligence system. A total of 127 Blinder-C were built. The Tu-22R was operated by both the air force and the navy reconnaissance regiments. The suffix -D was added to all the aircraft that were equipped with the inflight refuelling probe on the nose of the aircraft. D standing for dalniy which means long range. A small number of Tu-22R were converted to Tu-22RK or Tu-22RDK featuring the Kub electronic intelligence system to detect air defence radars. Later a small number was converted to Tu-22RDM having advanced reconnaissance package, including the M-202 Shompol side-looking radar.

The Tu-22R was also accepted into service in 1962 with the 260th Seperate Guards Long Range Reconnaissance Regiment (OGDRAP) of the 46th Air Army and the navu's 15th Long Range Reconnaissance Regiment (DRAP) as part of the Baltic Fleet. In 1965 two additional regiments were raised, the 199th OGDRAP with the 46th Air Army and another navy DRAP attached to the Black Sea Fleet. The Tu-22R replaced the navy's Ilyushin Il-28R aircraft. The navy's Tu-22R fleet was in peak strength during 1969-1970 when it deployed 62 aircraft.

Following the Tu-22R was the Tu-22U 'Blinder-D' trainer. A trainer version was found neccessary because of the highly different handling characteristics compared to the earlier Tu-16. Simulators were very crude and gave only a rough indication of the handling. On the station that was formerly occupied by the weapons officer a raised cabin was constructed for the instructor. The trainer version lacked the tail gun and fuel capacity was decreased. A total of 46 Tu-22U 'Blinder-D' trainers were built.

The Tu-22K 'Blinder-B' was a missile carrier version of the Tu-22 and was the first real combat capable Blinder to be operational. Because of the introduction of ballistic missiles, the aim for the Blinder-B was maritime strike. It was armed with the K-22 weapon system and the associated Kh-22 supersonic stand-off anti-ship missile (NATO AS-4 'Kitchen'). The Tu-22K was fitted with a modified version of the Rubin-1A radar, the Leninets PN radar (NATO 'Down Beat').

The K-22 (Kompleks-22) weapon systems was fitted to the Tu-22K missiles carrier and the Kh-22 (AS-4 'Kitchen') could be carried semi submerged in the bomb bay. Problems with the aircraft/missile combination, such as flight control, fuselage stress and fuel leaks occured because the aircraft was not designed to carry such a large missile. The Kh-22 missile was accepted into service in 1964 before Tu-22K trails were completed.

A total number of 76 Tu-22K versions were built, which was insufficient to replace all the Tu-16 which were in service as missile carriers with both the air force and the navy. The Tu-22KP designation was used for Tu-22K aircraft that were fitted with Kurs-N and later Kurs-NM electronic intelligence system, which scanned for NATO air defence radar emissions. It was equipped with an anti-radar version of the Kh-22 the Kh-22P.

Although viewed as a failure, Tupolev used its political pressure to avoid the program from being cancelled. During 1965 Tu-22K bombers were issued to bomber regiments, but it was not until 1967 when the testing was completed and the type was accepted into service officially. Three regiments of Tu-22K became operational in 1965, the 121st DBAP (Long Range Aviation Regiment), the 203rd DBAP and the 341st DRAP, all attached to the 15th Heavy Bomber Division of the 46th Air Army. Although it was reported that another regiment was serving with the Tu-22K in the Pacific Area with the 30th Air Army.

The Tu-22K was pushed into service prematurely resulting in a high accident rate. The downward firing K-22 ejection seats could not be used during take off and landing, which were the most difficult and dangerous moments of flight. The high landing speed compared with the Tu-16 made transition onto the aircraft more difficult. The aircraft suffered from a tendency to pitch up. When landed flaws in the shock absorber caused the gear to collapse, when the Kh-22 missile was carried this could lead to fatal explosions. The pilot had difficulty seeing the runway when flying with cross winds. Crew attached strings and hooks to cockpit levers which were out of reach. Visibility from all stations were poor. Ground crews used specially built scaffolds to service the aircraft engines, but these were not always available. The ground crew had to wear specials clothing to protect them from toxic fumes of the Kh-22 missile fuel.

By the 1970s all flaws were worked out and experience with the type lowered the accidents. Nevertheless the Tu-22 was never popular and had the highest accident rates in the Soviet Air Force. 311 Tu-22 variants were produced, of which 70 were lost through 1975. Combat readiness was low resulting in a high loss-per-sortie number.

In the 1970s several air forces in the Middle East were interested in obtaining a more modern bomber than their Tu-16. The latest Tu-22M 'Backfire' design was not avialable for sale, so the countries wanted the Tu-22 'Blinder'. The first country to request the Tu-22 was Egypt, but the request was turned down. Export orders for Libya and Iraq were approved. Tu-22 production line at Kazan already ceased operation, so Tu-22R were converted to Tu-22B standard.


Libyan Tu-22 Blinder


Iraq ordered 12 Tu-22 in 1973, one report says 10 of these would have been Tu-22B 'Blinder-A' aircraft. But in 1981 Iraq took delivery of 4 Tu-22KD/KDP and more than 200 Kh-22 and Kh-22M/MA missiles. The pilots were trained in the Soviet Union during 73-74 and the Tu-22K crews are reported to have been Soviet. The Iraqi Tu-22s were based at Al-Walid and saw action during the 1980-1988 war with Iran. The inventory after the war is reported to have been 5 to 8 aircraft, at least 3 Tu-22Ks have been lost. In January 1991, it was reported that 5 aircraft were still operational. In 2003 is was reported that these have all been destroyed by F-117s during Desert Storm, including one Tu-22U trainer.

Libyan Tu-22 Blinders were delivered from 1977 to 1983. The exact number remains a mystery, some say 12 to 18 while other reports only indicate 7 or 8 aircraft. The Libyan Tu-22s were based at Obka Ben Nafi Air Base near Tripoli. At least four were lost during combat in Chad and elsewhere in the 1980s. One of the Tu-22s was downed by a French NIM-23 Hawk battery, the cockpit section was found with inside all three dead East German crew members. It is thought that 6 to 8 Tu-22s remain in the inventory. These are probably not operational, given the low level of pilot training, shortage of spares and the Tu-22 maintenance problems.

The Tu-22 was used in a limited support role during the Soviet operations in Afghanistan. In October 1988 four Tu-22PDs were deployed to provide electronic warfare support for Tu-22M3 'Backfire-C' bombers operating near the border with Pakistan. The need for EW support arrose because of concerns that Pakistani F-16 or SAM would be deployed. The Tu-22PD were replaced by other four Tu-22PD in January 1989. These saw little action and were withdrawn in February.

The Tu-22 never entirely replaced the Tu-16 as its intended. The Tu-16 had better range and could carry two Kh-22 missiles. Main role of the Tu-22 was that of long range reconnaissance platform, which it performed well after all the flaws had been ironed out in the 1970s. During 1991 the number of Tu-22s on strength were half the number produced. Reduced by attrition, exports and replacement. The Soviet Navy began retiring the Tu-22R fleet of the Baltic Fleet during the mid 1980s and disbanded the regiment in 1989. In 1994 also the other navy's reconnaissance regiment had been disbanded. Only six aircraft remained in service in 1991 as part of the Black Sea Regiment.

The Tu-22P 'Blinder-E' was an electronics intelligence variant of the Tu-22 and features the REB-K Elint system mounted in the bomb bay and had its tail gun replaced with a SPS-100A Rezeda-A jammer station. Although some Tu-22P retained the original self defence machine guns. The Tu-22P task was to locate US Navy carrier battle grounps or would accompany Tu-22K aircraft providing jamming support.

There has been one Tu-22R converted to server as a high-speed equipment testbed. The aircraft was designated Tu-22LL, LL standing for letayuschchaya laboratoriya or flying laboratory. The aircraft features a modified nose cone and resides at the Russian flight test institute at Zhukhovskii.

In 1991 the Soviet Air Force still operated 100 Tu-22K and Tu-22P and 55 Tu-22R outside Russia. When the Soviet Union collapsed the bombers mostly remained at their airbases in the Ukraine and Belarus. The Russian Tu-22s have all been scrapped in favor of the Tu-22M 'Backfire' replacement for the bomber and the Su-24MR recon aircraft which entered service in the 1980s. The number of Ukrainian Tu-22 continued to drop during the 1990s. It is reported that they remained in service until lack of spare parts.


NATO revealed existence of a Soviet variable geometry bomber programme in 1969, development having begun in 1962 and the Tupolev Tu-22M (NATO 'Backfire') is a supersonic medium bomber which was designed to replace the subsonic Tu-16 and the troublesome Tu-22 missile carriers. Although its designation may suggest that the 'Tu-22M' Backfire is basically a modified Tu-22 'Blinder' it is a completely different and new design with only a few small Tu-22 features maintained. The Tu-22M design features a variable geometry wing which is also found on contemporary tactical fighters and the American B-1B bomber. The two turbofan afterburning engines are unlike almost every other bomber located in its fuselage body, with large shoulder mounted intakes.

The first of between five and nine Tu-22MO prototypes were observed in July 1970 on the ground near the Kazan plant, and confirmed subsequently as a twin-engined design by Tupolev OKB. The first flight was on 30 August 1969. Nine Tu-22M-1 preproduction models for development testing, weapons trials and evaluation were built and the Tu-22M-1 first flew in July 1971, and first displayed in the West at the 1992 Farnborough Air Show.

The aircraft can be equipped with up to three Kh-22 air-to-surface missiles, with one under each wing and a third under its belly, semi-recessed into the bomb bay. The second ASM option is the Kh-15 (NATO AS-16 'Kickback') on a six-round launcher carried in the bomb bay. Up to four external bomb racks can be equipped, each rack capable of carrying nine conventional 250kg general purpose bombs. Also the 500, 1500 and 3000 kg conventional bombs can be equipped. The Tu-22M is equipped with a Leninets PN-A attack radar in the nose and a OPB-15T television sight for optical bomb aiming located below the fuselage just in front of the nose gear.

The Tu-22M has a crew of four: commander (left front), co-pilot (right front), communications officer (left rear) and navigator (right rear). All crew is sitting on KT-1 ejection seats which fire up, a much improvement after the downward firing seats in the Tu-22 Blinder. The rear crew have no forward visibility, but have a large side window each.

The first production variant was the Tu-22M2. The variant was capable of being refuelled in flight. However after the SALT treaty the probe was removed, remaining the probe housing. Later the probe housing was also removed, but the aircraft keeps the bulge-like shape of the nose.

The latest version, the Tu-22M3 or 'Backfire-C', has two NK-25 engines replacing the original NK-22s. The new engines coupled with redesigned engine intakes boosted performance. Also the maximum wing sweep was increased back to 65 degrees. The Tu-22M3 is capable of Mach 1 at low level and has a max speed of Mach 2.05. The Tu-22M3 was also armed with a new weapon, the Raduga Kh-15 which was better suited against enemy air defenses than the obsolete Kh-22. Probably because of the large available inventory of Kh-22 missile, the Kh-22 was improved (Kh-22M and Kh-22MA) and remained in service on the Tu-22M.

Although satellites took over the role of the Tu-22R for the larger part, a small number of Tu-22M3s were modified for the recconnaissance role. The designation for this variant is Tu-22M3(R) or Tu-22MR. The variant has a large sensor package (equivalent to that of the Tu-22RDM) built into the bomb bay.

The ECM package of the Tu-22M2 and despite improvements the Tu-22M3 was not considered adequate and an escort jamming aircraft was needed. The old Tu-16P was too slow for the job and two alternatives were considered. One being the Tu-22MP, a Tu-22M3 fitted with the Miass electronic warfare system. Three prototypes were built by 1992 but the type did not enter service. The other option was the Il-76PP, a converted Il-76 transport. It was equipped with the Dandish system which could not be equipped to the Tu-22M3 because it required too much power. One prototype was tested, but none were produced.

No Tu-22M Backfires were exported, altough China and Iran showed serious interest in the 1990s. Lately there have been reports that the Tu-22M3 was offered to India for the maritime attack role. Russia remains the biggest operator of the type. In 1997 a study for the upgrade of the Tu-22M3 was started under the name of project 245 or Tu-245.

Ukraine was the only other operator, it inherited a large number of Tu-22M3 from the Soviet Union.

Production at Kazan ended 1992, probably totalling nine Tu-22MO prototypes, nine Tu-22M-1s, 211 Tu-22M-2s and 268 Tu-22M-3s, or 497 in all.




Production per year:
1957: 1
1958: 1
1959: 5
1960: 20
1961: 0
1962: 33
1963: 36
1964: 49
1965: 35
1966: 40
1967: 50
1968: 27
1969: 16

Production by variant:
Prototype: Samolet 105 and 105A - 2
Bomber: Tu-22B 'Blinder-A' - 15
Recon: Tu-22R 'Blinder-C' - 127
Carrier: Tu-22K 'Blinder-B' - 76
Trainer: Tu-22U 'Blinder-D' - 46
Electronic: Tu-22P 'Blinder-E' - 47

Total produced – 313

Tu-22A/Tu-22A 'B' (Blinder-A)
Tu-22K/KD/KDP/KPD (Blinder-B)
Tu-22P/PD (Blinder-E)
Tu-22R/RD/RK/RDK/RM/RDM/RDM-2 (Blinder-C)
Tu-22U (Blinder-D)
Tu-22M0 (Backfire-A)
Tu-22M1 (Backfire-A)
Tu-22M2 (Backfire-B)
Tu-22M3 (Backfire-C)

Operators: Russia, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya

Confirmed Iraqi Tu-22s air-to-air losses by Iranian fighters:

Date: 25 March 1984
Type: Tu-22B
Shot down by: F-14A 73TFS/TFB.1
Shot down by: AIM-154A

Date: 06 April 1984
Type: Tu-22B
Shot down by: F-14A 82TFS/TFB.6
Shot down by: AIM-154A

Date: 06 April 1984
Type: Tu-22B
Shot down by: F-14A 82TFS/TFB.6
Shot down by: AIM-154A

Date: 16 February 1986
Type: Tu-22B
Shot down by: ? unconfirmed
Shot down by: ? unconfirmed

Date: 19 March 1988
Type: Tu-22B
Shot down by: F-14A 82TFS/TFB.6
Shot down by: AIM-154A

Date: 19 March 1988
Type: Tu-22B
Shot down by: F-4E TFB.6
Shot down by: AIM-7E2


Tupolev Tu-22M



Engines: 2 x 26,000 lb (11,790 kg) after-burning turbojet
Wing span 90 ft 10½ in (27.7 m)
Length (most versions): 132 ft 11½ in (40.53 m)
Height: 17 ft (5.18 m)
Weight empty: about 85,000 lb (38,600 kg)
Maximum loaded weight: 184,970 lb (83,900 kg)
Max speed (clean, 40,000 ft/12200 m): 920 mph (1480 km/h, Mach 1 4)
Initial ROC: about 11,500 ft (3500 m)/min
Service ceiling: 59,000 ft (18,000 m)
Range (high, internal fuel only): 1400 miles (2250 km)
Armament: one 23 mm NS-23
Internal bombload: 20 000 lb (9070 kg)

Engines: 2 x Koliesov VD-7 turbojet, 30,900 lb (14,015 kgp) thrust
Payload: 4410 lb (2000 kg) of free fall weapons

Engines: 2 x Koliesov VD-7 turbojet, 30,900 lb (14,015 kgp) thrust
Payload: 1 x AS-4 Kitchen

Tu-22KD 'Blinder-C'
Powerplant: two 156.9 kN (35,275 lb st) VD-7M afterburning turbojets; later two 161.9 kN (36,376 lb st) RD-7M2 afterburning turbojets
Length 42.60m (139 ft 9 in)
Height 10.00m (32 ft 9¼ in)
Wing span 23.50m (77 ft 1¼ in)
Empty weight: 40000 kg (88,183 lb)
Max Take-Off Weight 84000 kg (185,185 lb) or 94000 kg (202,820 lb) with four take off rockets
Max level speed at 12200 m (40,000 feet) Mach 1.5 or 1510 km/h (938 mph)
Max level speed at sea level 890 km/h (553 mph)
Ceiling 18300m (60,040 ft)
Armament: two R-23 23mm cannons
Bombload internal: 24000 kg (847,547 lb)

Engines: 2 x VD-7M, 156.9 kN
Max take-off weight: 84000-92000 kg / 185189 - 202826 lb
Wingspan: 23.8 m / 78 ft 1 in
Length: 40.5 m / 133 ft 10 in
Height: 10.7 m / 35 ft 1 in
Wing area: 162.0 sq.m / 1743.75 sq ft
Max. speed: 1610 km/h / 1000 mph
Ceiling: 14700 m / 48250 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 5650 km / 3511 miles
Range w/max.payload: 4900 km / 3045 miles
Crew: 3
Armament: 1 x 23mm remote-controlled cannon
Bombload: 12000kg

Engines: 2 x afterburning turbo-jet NK-25, 245.1kN
Max take-off weight: 124000 kg / 273375 lb
Wingspan: 23.3-34.3 m / 76 ft 5 in-113 ft 6 in
Length: 42.5 m / 139 ft 5 in
Height: 11.1 m / 36 ft 5 in
Wing area: 165.0 sq.m / 1776.04 sq ft
Max. speed: 2300 km/h / 1429 mph
Ceiling: 14000 m / 45950 ft
Range: 5100 km / 3169 miles
Armament: 1-2 x 23mm cannons
Bombload: 24000kg
Crew: 4

Tu-22M3 'Backfire-C'

Powerplant: two 245.2 kN (55,115 lb st) Kuznetsov/KKBM NK-25 afterburning turbofans
Length 42.46m (139 ft 3¼ in)
Height 11.05m (36 ft 3 in)
Wing span maximum sweep 23.30m (76 ft 5½ in)
Wing span minimum sweep 34.28m (112 ft 5¾ in)
Empty weight: 54000 kg (119,048 lb)
Max Take-Off Weight 126400 kg (278,660 lb) with RATO
Max level speed at high altitude Mach 2.0 or 2000 km/h (1242 mph)
Max level speed at sea level 1050 km/h (652 mph)
Ceiling 13300m (43,635 ft)
Armament: one GSh-23 23mm twin-barrel gun
Bombload: 24000 kg (52,910 lb)
Crew: 4

Tu-26 Backfire B
Engine: 2 x Kuznetsov NK-144. Installed thrust reheat: 400 kN
Span: 34.5 m / 26.2 m
Length: 40.2 m
Wing area: 165 sq.m
MTOW: 130,000 kg
Warload: 12,000+ kg
Max speed: 2 Mach
Ceiling: 16,000+ m
Max range: 12,000 km
Air refuel: Yes
Combat radius: 8900 km

Tupolev Tu-22

Tupolev Tu-22M




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