Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire / Туполев Ту-22М3 pic.twitter.com/uDq0vdr1UE— ВИКТОР (@888VICTO888) 28 июня 2015
The Russian defense agency is expected to receive six modernized long-range Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber-missile carriers by the end of 2015 but the exact date of the delivery to the Black Sea peninsula has not been made public.
Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-22M3 takeoff with afterburner pic.twitter.com/ED0ch9eXnK— Dharma Puspha (@dharma_g3) 23 Март 2015
The Tu-22M3 boasts a maximum range of 4,200 miles and has a combat radius of 1,500 miles with a typical weapons load. It is armed with a 23-mm GSh-23 cannon in a remotely controlled tail turret, the Raduga Kh-22 long-range anti-ship missiles and Raduga Kh-15 air-to-surface missiles.
The Russian Army operates more than 100 Tu-22Ms. Their upgrade is part of a major $400 billion initiative to modernize Russia's forces, scheduled to be completed by 2020.
If confirmed, the deployment to Crimea will come against the backdrop of the US expanding its Operation Atlantic Resolve, launched to protect Eastern European nations and the Baltic states from a non-existent Russian threat following the outbreak of the civil war in Ukraine.
Under the banner of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the United States plans to deploy heavy military hardware to European countries close to Russia's borders and enhance war-games, involving NATO allies and other countries.
The land based component of Washington's European missile defense system in Romania is scheduled to become operational in late 2015. The system is formally known as the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.