Italian citizenship offered to Russian pilot for hijacking Tu-22M3

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The Russian Federal Security Service [FSB] has announced that they thwarted an attempt by Ukrainian special services to recruit a Russian pilot to hijack a Tu-22M3 supersonic strategic bomber. This announcement was made via the Russian news agency Interfax, which cited a statement from the FSB.

It's possible now for Russia to send a Tu-22M3 bomber to Syria
Photo credit: Wikipedia

According to the FSB’s Public Affairs Center, “The Federal Security Service [FSB] of the Russian Federation halted yet another attempt by Ukrainian special services to execute an operation aimed at hijacking a Tu-22M3 strategic bomber of the Russian Aerospace Forces. This operation reportedly involved participation from NATO intelligence services in its planning and execution,” the FSB reported on Monday.

The intelligence service further stated that Ukrainian intelligence had attempted to recruit a Russian military pilot with promises of money and Italian citizenship, aiming to convince him to fly the missile carrier into Ukrainian territory. “During the operational game, Russian counterintelligence officers gathered information that enabled our armed forces to fire upon the Ozernoe airport of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” noted the FSB.

Russian VKS will receive modernized Tu-22M3M long-range bombers
Photo credit: The National Interest

The first attempt was in 2022

In the summer of 2022, the FSB claimed to have thwarted a similar operation orchestrated by Ukrainian Special Services. According to the intelligence agency, Ukrainian military intelligence officers, allegedly acting under orders from their political leaders, attempted to recruit Russian military pilots by offering them monetary compensation and the promise of EU citizenship.

Rossiya-24 [VGTRK] reported that these Ukrainian intelligence agents aimed to recruit Russian pilots to acquire Su-24, Su-34 aircraft, and the Tu-22M3 supersonic missile carrier.

UAC delivered RuAF new batch of Su-34 declaring a production reserve
Photo credit: UAC

About Tu-22M3

The Tu-22M3, also known by its NATO reporting name ‘Backfire-C,’ is a long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Soviet Union and is currently operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces. It is an advanced variant of the original Tu-22M series, which was designed by the Tupolev Design Bureau.

In terms of dimensions, the Tu-22M3 has a length of approximately 42.46 meters [139 feet], a wingspan of 34.28 meters [112 feet] when fully extended, and a height of around 11.05 meters [36 feet]. The variable-sweep wing design allows for adjustments in wing configuration to optimize performance at various speeds and altitudes.

Russian VKS will receive modernized Tu-22M3M long-range bombers
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The propulsion system of the Tu-22M3 consists of two NK-25 afterburning turbofan engines, each capable of producing up to 55,115 pounds of thrust. This powerful engine setup enables the bomber to reach a maximum speed of around Mach 1.88 [2,000 km/h or 1,243 mph] and provides a combat range of approximately 7,000 kilometers [4,350 miles] without refueling.

Еxtensive operational capabilities

Technical characteristics of the Tu-22M3 include advanced avionics and navigation systems, a crew of four [pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and weapons systems officer], and a maximum takeoff weight of about 126,400 kilograms [278,900 pounds]. The aircraft is equipped with a terrain-following radar, electronic countermeasures [ECM], and a sophisticated targeting system.

Tu-22M bomber with AS-4 Kitchen missiles landed at St. Petersburg
Photo credit: RIA Novosti

The Tu-22M3 is armed with a variety of weapons, making it a versatile platform for different mission profiles. Its armament includes Kh-22 [AS-4 ‘Kitchen’] and Kh-32 long-range anti-ship missiles, Kh-15 [AS-16 ‘Kickback’] short-range nuclear missiles, and conventional bombs. The bomber can carry up to 24,000 kilograms [52,910 pounds] of ordnance in its internal bomb bay and on external hardpoints.

The operational capabilities of the Tu-22M3 are extensive, allowing it to perform strategic bombing, maritime strike, and reconnaissance missions. It can operate in all weather conditions, day or night, and can penetrate heavily defended airspace. The aircraft’s long-range and high-speed performance make it a formidable asset for power projection and deterrence.


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