The official reclassification of the Tu-22’s updated models from tactical bombers to heavy, nuclear-capable strategic bomber could lead to a new round of accusations concerning Russia’s potential non-compliance.
In what is the latest sighting of Russia’s most prolific strategic bomber, the Russian Defense Ministry reported earlier this week that two Tu-22M3’s conducted a patrol mission over the Black Sea. According to their press release, “Two Tu-22M3 long-range bombers performed a scheduled flight in the airspace over international waters in the Black Sea.”
Zvezda, the official television channel of the Russian Defense Ministry, has published a brief clip of the occasion. The footage begins with several close-up shots of pilots undergoing final preparations from inside the cockpit, before capturing a multi-angle view of the take-off. The latter part of the video depicts the two Tu-22M3’s cruising side by side.
The Tu-22M3’s covered a distance of approximately 4,500 kilometers over the span of five hours. It would not have needed to refuel while deployed, as it boasts a maximum range of 6,800 kilometers.