23:31 GMT +317 January 2020
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    The Tu-22 strategic and maritime strike bomber is one of the mainstays of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ strategic bomber fleet, capable of fielding a broad range of standoff weapons including the Kinzhal, an air-launched, nuclear-capable hypersonic, maneuverable cruise missile unveiled by President Putin in a speech to lawmakers in 2018.

    The Aviationist editor David Cenciotti has expressed his admiration for Russia’s Tu-22M3 bomber thanks to a recently released video featuring the bomber taking off from the Gromov Flight Research Institute outside Moscow while showing off the unique blue hue of its engines’ afterburners.

    Pointing to the plane’s preparations for takeoff at around 7:00 mark in the video, Cenciotti explained the scientific reason for the afterburners’ unique blue hue: “In fact, as opposed to the orange plume you can observe on Western afterburners, Russian ones appear to be blue in colour, meaning that all the injected fuel is burnt before exiting the nozzle.”

    This, he noted, means “a more complete combustion,” with the resulting reaction creating “enough energy to excite and ionize gas molecules in the flame, leading to a blue flame appearance.”

    Cenciotti also pointed to the pilot’s unusual decision to keep the afterburners on so long after take-off, speculating that this particular Tu-22M3 mission or test may have required it.

    Other English-speaking users soon jumped into the Tu-22M3 test video, with one commenter remarking “Boy the Russian afterburners have a sexy blue colour to them,” with another saying he was satisfied by the “very detailed switch-on afterburner sequence in the video.”

    “What an amazing machine! The afterburners look like alien technology! Mesmerizing blue!” a third user chimed in.

    Naturally, a few jokers also joined the fray, with one user suggesting that the aircraft’s pilot must have “just used half of Russia’s vodka supply on that takeoff.”

    Testing of the Russian Tu-22M3M bomber
    © Photo : Zvezda
    Testing of the Russian Tu-22M3M bomber

    First introduced into service with the Soviet Air Force in the early 1970s for use as a strategic and maritime bomber, the Tu-22 is part of the troika of aircraft making up the backbone of the country’s strategic air power (the other two being the Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers). All three aircraft have proven suitable for upgrades, with the Russian Aerospace Forces testing the Kinzhal hypersonic missile aboard the Tu-22M3.

    The supersonic, variable-sweep winged long-range strategic bomber was used extensively in Syria, with 14 of the 63 Tu-22s in the Aerospace Forces inventory used against terrorists in Syria starting in 2015.

    An upgraded modification of the aircraft, known as the ‘Tu-22M3M’, underwent tests late last year, with the plane featuring a new targeting system, radar, engine and avionics, and the capability to carry the Kh-32 anti-ship cruise missile and Kinzhals. Deliveries of the upgraded aircraft in the military are expected to begin in 2021.


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