'ISIL Killer': Russia's Tu-22M3 to Wipe Out Terrorist Targets in Syria

© Photo : Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation / Go to the photo bankA Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber of the Russian Aerospace Forces during a combat flight to strike the Islamic State infrastructure facilities in Syria by OFAB-25-270 fragmentation high explosive bombs
A Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber of the Russian Aerospace Forces during a combat flight to strike the Islamic State infrastructure facilities in Syria by OFAB-25-270 fragmentation high explosive bombs - Sputnik International
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The Tupolev Tu-95 (Bear) and Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bombers might have grabbed the headlines following Russia's massive airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, but it is actually the supersonic Tu-22M3 (Backfire C) that has been largely doing the work.

Just look at the numbers. On November 17, airstrike operations were conducted by 24 Tu-22M3s, as well as five Tu-160 and Tu-95MS.

© Photo : Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation / Go to the photo bankCruise missiles hit ISIS targets in Syria
Cruise missiles hit ISIS targets in Syria - Sputnik International
Cruise missiles hit ISIS targets in Syria

A squadron of the Tu-22M3 bombers, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, targeted six facilities in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor destroying ISIL headquarters, ammunition depots, a plant where militants were making explosive devices, as well as well as a command center and three oil production sites.

The supersonic, variable-sweep wing Tu-22M3 is a long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber. The aircraft is the latest modification of the Backfire family in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 1989.

© Photo : Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation / Go to the photo bankThe bomb-door of the Tu-22 M3 missile-carrying bomber, the Russian aerospace forces, on its operational mission to deliver air strikes at ISIS targets in Syria
The bomb-door of the Tu-22 M3 missile-carrying bomber, the Russian aerospace forces, on its operational mission to deliver air strikes at ISIS targets in Syria - Sputnik International
The bomb-door of the Tu-22 M3 missile-carrying bomber, the Russian aerospace forces, on its operational mission to deliver air strikes at ISIS targets in Syria

"When the Backfire was introduced into service, it caused a lot of concern within the US Navy because it is designed to carry a massive load of long-range anti-ship cruise missiles. The jet is fast – it has a top speed of Mach 1.88 and will easily sustain Mach 1.6 for extended periods – and carries 53,000lbs of weapons. Typically, that meant the Tu-22M3 could be carrying ten Raduga Kh-15 anti-ship missiles or three massive Raduga Kh-22 missiles – both of which can hit speeds of around Mach 5.0," Defense analyst Dave Majumdar wrote for the National Interest.

The Tu-22M3 strategic bomber, designed by the Tupolev aerospace and defense company, is expected to be replaced by Russia's stealthy fifth generation long-range bomber, dubbed the PAK DA, and the newest modification of the Tu-160.

"But that might not be the end of the road for the Backfire. There have been persistent rumors that China wants to buy the aircraft as part of its anti-access/area denial strategy," the analyst observed.

© SputnikRussian air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria
Russian air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria - Sputnik International
Russian air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria
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