Russia has agreed to deliver 36 Tu-22M3 bombers to Beijing. The total value of this contract is assessed at $1,5 billion, Vzglyad.ru reports with reference to Business Insider.
After being put into service the bombers will receive “H-10” designation. The aircraft will be delivered in two batches: 12 jets and 24 ones.
The jets will be upgraded in China and their operating range will be increased. This will make Tu-22M3 a serious threat to many of the advanced weapon systems.
Business Insider also believes that it is right if the contract includes not only the jets but also air-launched long-range Kh-22 supersonic anti-ship cruising missile (NАТО – AS-4 Kitchen). It may significantly alter the strategic balance in this region and generate additional threat to the US Navy.
According to some open sources, Russian air forces have previously been operating 70 Tu-22M3 bombers and Russian navy have been operating 83 ones. All the operational aircraft of the navy (prepared for one-time ferry flight) were placed under control of the air forces in 2011.
Tu-22M3s have been used in 1988–1989 in Afghanistan and at the early stage of the first military conflict in Chechnya.
During a war in South Ossetia in August 2008 Tu-22M3 bombers were dealing precise air strikes at ammunition depots of the Georgian army, airfields and places of enemy troop’s disposition at the Kodori Gorge. According to the official line, one Tu-22M3 was shot down by Georgian air defense system. After this loss Russia stopped using these bombers until the end of the conflict.