The Russian Aerospace Force will receive an upgraded bomber later this year.
In October, the Russian Aerospace Force is to take delivery of a modernized Tu-22M3M bomber. TASS, citing an unnamed source in the defense industry, reported on May 15, 2018, that the first of the upgraded Tu-22M3Ms will be delivered to the military this year, equipped with the Kh-32 air-launched cruise missile, a development on the Kh-22. Russian media has previously referenced the upgraded missile as having a range of up to 1,000 kilometers and travel at speeds of 5,000 kilometers per hour.
The first upgraded bomber has not made its first flight yet but is expected to do so this summer, ahead of transfer to the military. CEO of the Tupolev design bureau, Alexander Konyukhov, told TASS last month that the flight would be conducted in August at the firm’s plant in Kazan.
Designs for the Tu-22M3M modification were completed last year. In addition to new avionics and navigation systems, the Tu-22M3M was re-engined, according to another source in the defense industry who spoke to TASS.
TASS stressed that the information from the sources was not officially confirmed.
It is not currently known how many Tu-22M3s will see the upgrade, as Russian defense industry officials have noted that not all of those in service will be modernized. It is believed that over two dozen will ultimately be upgraded. Russia set a deadline of 2020 for the completion of the modernized aircraft.