Tupolev Tu-22M3 to be refueled in mid-air, operate on longer range
MOSCOW. Oct 3 (Interfax-AVN) - Modernized Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bombers will be equipped with flying booms for mid-air refueling, an informed source told Interfax.
"New Tupolev Tu-22M3M bombers will have flying booms. The flying booms were removed from existent aircraft after the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) treaty was signed with the United States in 1979, and newly built aircraft had no such devices installed," the source said.
The Tu-22M3M prototype rolled out in Kazan on August 16 has a flying boom, the source said, adding that all modernized aircraft will have devices for mid-air refueling.
"The new refueling equipment will significantly increase Tu-22M3M's combat radius and range of operation. The range will be comparable with one of strategic bombers," he said.
At the moment, a regular Tu-22M3 operates on a range of 6,000 kilometers, against 12,000 to 15,000 kilometers covered by Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic aircraft.
The New START Treaty limits the nuclear forces of Russia and the United States to 2,550 warheads, and 700 deployed and 800 non-deployed launchers. The treaty applies to Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS heavy bombers.
Tu-22M3 performed the inaugural flight on June 20, 1977; it was in mass production from 1978 till 1993.