Right On Cue, Russian Tu-22M3 Bombers Now Flying From Syria Brandish Anti-Ship Missiles
The Russian Ministry of Defense has released new video and photos showing the current deployment of three Tu-22M3 Backfire-C swing-wing bombers to Khmeimim airbase in Syria, the story of which we were first to report on Monday and followed up on a day later with additional details. Now, as we expected, one of the jets has appeared toting a single example of the enormous Kh-22 series standoff missile.
Known in the West as the AS-4 Kitchen, the weapon is now primarily used for anti-shipping strike, in keeping with the maritime mission that Moscow has said the Backfires will undertake while in Syria.
A video published today by the Russian Ministry of Defense’s official television station, TV Zvezda, shows crew strapping into one of the four-seat bombers at Khmeimim, with an example of the A-50U Mainstayairborne early warning aircraft visible on the ramp in the background.
An unarmed Russian Aerospace Forces Tu-22M3 is shown departing the airbase, while another is shown flying, with a single Kh-22 (or possibly a modernized Kh-32) carried asymmetrically, under the port wing. There is also an inflight sequence onboard one of the bombers, revealing the non-upgraded cockpit and one of the pilots studying a paper map. Additional footage published by the same source also shows Su-35S Flanker escort fighters departing to accompany the bombers.