One of the best planes in the Russian air force is the Tu-22M3. It has been patrolling the skies from Japan to Europe and dropping bombs over Syria. The airplane has been upgraded, and it is now able to fire new Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, but some of the upgrades might change the way Tu is categorized under the New START treaty.
The US forces learned about the Tu-22M back in 1971 when they couldn’t figure out its purpose. Even though it was possible to attack the States with refueling, the Russians didn’t use it for that. Instead, they kept it for defense on the periphery of the Soviet Union border.
However, in the early 1980s, new ALCM missiles were tested, and their range was around 3,000km causing the US officials to believe that Russians are preparing for an attack. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Tu-22M was no longer considered a “heavy bomber” under START.
However, the recent updates are causing us to believe that Tu-22M3 will be used as a strategic weapon. Honestly, most of these upgrades are intended to improve conventional capability, the avionics suite became a standard feature for instance.
The aircraft is set to carry newer Kh-32 missiles with the range of about 600km, but it will also be armed with Kh-SD weapons that can go as long as 2,000km. Should the Tu-22M3 implement this missile as an option, its status under new START will change. Another condition that needs to be fulfilled is to confirm that Kh-SD has nuclear capability.
Do you think that the Tu-22M3 will present a danger to this world in the future?