Home EurAsian Region

After Tu-95 Bomber, Russia’s Tu-22 M3 Backfire Destroyed In Ukraine Drone Attack – Reports

After the December drone strike on Engels Air Base that damaged Russia’s Tu-95 nuclear-capable bomber and shocked the Russian Air Force (RuAf), the service may have lost a Tu-22 bomber to another alleged Ukrainian drone strike.

LCA Tejas: India Applies ‘Full Diplomatic Force’ To Seal Argentina Fighter Deal & Outflank 2nd-Hand F-16 Jets: Top Official

A drone attack targeted the Russian Tu-22M3 Backfire swing-wing bomber based at Soltsy-2 on August 19. As soon as the news broke out, visuals appeared on social media showing thick black smoke billowing from the air base. However, it was initially unknown what asset at the base caught fire.

Now, another set of visuals posted on social media indicates that a Tu-22M3 strategic bomber was struck by the drone allegedly belonging to the Ukrainian military. The pictures first surfaced on Telegram and have subsequently spread to other social media sites.

The Russian MoD announced that a drone struck one unidentified aircraft without directly naming the Tu-22M3 bomber. “At around 10:00 Moscow time today, the Kyiv regime carried out a terrorist attack using a copter type UAV against a military airfield in Novgorod region,” it noted on Telegram.

Giving ambiguous details, the RuMoD said: “As a result of the terrorist attack, a fire broke out in the airfield parking lot, which was promptly extinguished by firefighting teams. One airplane was damaged; there were no casualties due to the terrorist act.”

The air base is more than 660 kilometers from the borders of Ukraine, indicating that a long-range drone was dispatched for the attack. Since the Ukrainian counteroffensive was launched, Kyiv has exponentially enhanced its long-range attacks on strategic Russian assets and civilian and military installations.

The Soltsy-2 air base is home to the 840th Heavy Bomber Regiment, which comprises the Tu-22M Backfire strategic bombers with a variable-sweep wing developed during the Soviet era. As soon as the base came under attack, the RuAF was reported to have moved the aircraft to a far-off base.

Alarmed by the damage to a bomber that has been raining down missiles on Ukrainian cities and has proved instrumental to the RuAF, the service reportedly moved them to Olenya Air Base south of Murmansk. This was disclosed by a high-frequency radio observer who goes by the handle @olga_pp98 on platform X.

According to this analyst and tracker, some six Tu-22M3 aircraft have departed from Soltsy-2 for Olenya to the north of the Arctic Circle, where Ukrainian UAVs and missiles cannot reach. The air base has typically been used to launch attacks on Ukrainian cities without exposing the bombers to the risk of being struck.

File:Tu-22M3 Ryazan2.JPG - Wikimedia Commons
Tu-22M3- Wikimedia Commons

Bombers have typically been deployed to carry stand-off missile strikes on Ukraine from within Russian airspace. Besides the Tu-22M3, Russia has used strategic bombers like the Tu-95 and Tu-160 to launch conventional missiles at Ukrainian targets.

Although the Tu-22 are archaic Soviet-era bombers, they have been extensively deployed to launch older supersonic Kh-22s and even more recent Kh-32 variants, which are principally powerful anti-ship missiles and are notorious for targeting Ukrainian civilian targets and causing widespread destruction. This could likely explain why these bombers were targeted.

Ukraine has mostly had a limited defense against these speedy missiles, which the Ukrainian Air Force has admitted. With the arrival of the Patriot defense batteries, the country’s air defense has been bolstered, but they have been stationed in and around the capital Kyiv.

Tu-22M3 Is The Second Russian Bomber Damaged By Ukraine

Deep inside Russian territory, Engels-2 Air Force Base was attacked on December 5 by Ukrainian drones. While the damage could not be ascertained initially, published satellite imagery showed the Russian Tu-95 bomber had taken a significant hit.

At least one Tu-95 strategic bomber of the Russian Aerospace Force caught fire and sustained considerable damage, according to satellite images of the Engels-2 Air Base in the Saratov region.

According to satellite images (below) obtained by EurAsian Times, a Tu-95MS strategic bomber can be seen covered in firefighting foam, which is used to cool the fire and coat the fuel to prevent it from coming into contact with oxygen. You can read a detailed analysis of the incident here.

Destroyed Tu-95 Image

Since the Tu-95 nuclear bomber, the backbone of Russia’s bomber force, had never been struck or destroyed in battle, its removal from active service was considered a severe setback. The bomber wasn’t destroyed, but it was sent to the repair hangars, and it was predicted that it wouldn’t be ready for combat for at least a year.

Following three drone strikes in December which came in quick succession and ended up damaging a Tu-95, the Ukrainian government sources alleged that the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) Long-Range Aviation (LRA) Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” aircraft were moved from Engels-2 Air Base to Ukrainian-Seryshevo Air Base.

While Engels-2 is 600 kilometers to the east of Ukrainian-controlled territory, Ukrainka-Seryshevo is over 6,000 kilometers away from Ukraine. Subsequently, some reports also suggested that some of these bombers were moved to the Olenya Air Base south of Murmansk, where the Tu-22M3 was relocated.

T-95 bombers and the Tu-160 are the mainstays of Russia’s strategic bomber force. However, the Tu-22M3 is a significant asset given that Ukrainian airspace is saturated and long-range cruise missiles fired from the Russian airspace are Moscow’s best bet to keep the Ukrainian military on edge.

The Ukrainian drone attacks on strategic Russian assets have also called into question the ability of its air defense forces to defend the country. On the other hand, the decision to target a Russian bomber has been seen as a clear message to the RuAF that has only intensified its missile attacks in recent times.

Exit mobile version