The issue of the Tu-22M3 strategic bombers disposal is being sharply discussed every time russia shells Ukraine or there is a need to increase the operational range of missiles targeted at russian military facilities. Moreover, Ukraine is claimed to have given not only the Kh-55 cruise missiles but also the Kh-22 cruise missiles to the kremlin.
Apparently, the shortage of long-range weapons is significant. But the decision to get rid of the Tu-22M3 bombers and the Kh-22 missiles has been completely justified.
To begin with, the Kh-22 cruise missiles were disposed by the U.S. contractors on the territory of Ukraine.
According to the open source, 225 missiles were destroyed at the Ozerne air base (Zhytomyr region) and 432 pieces in Poltava. None of them were passed to the kremlin.
The reasoning behind this step was primarily that Ukraine didn’t have money. In addition, the technical service was a concern.
The Kazan Aircraft Production Association (Kazan, russia) is a manufacturer of the Tu-22 aircraft. Under no circumstances would the russian federation maintain Ukrainian bombers. Furthermore, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union russia have got 170 Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, 60 of them are still in service (according to The Military Balance 2022). So it seems like russia can’t maintain its own bombers.
The Western world countries occurred a similar practice at the beginning of 2000s. The United States of America abandoned the F-111 Aardvark combat aircraft, France sent the Mirage IV strategic bomber on retirement. Strategic conditions in the world dictated the fate of the Tu-22M3 strategic bomber.
Should be noted that the West have concentrated on the adaptation of the long-range cruise missiles for the tactical airforce crafts. The United States Air Force have the AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile with the range of 900 km that can be carried by the F-16 or the F-15 fighters. France have adapted the Air-Sol Moyenne Portée-Amélioré ASMP-A cruise missile for the Rafale B multirole fighter.
Ukraine have to work on the development of its own air-launched long-range missiles in accordance with the requirements of the modernity but not of the remnants of the Soviet past.
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