TechUkrainian military intelligence claims heroic destruction of three Russian bombers, thwarting missile attacks on Ukraine

Ukrainian military intelligence claims heroic destruction of three Russian bombers, thwarting missile attacks on Ukraine

Images source: © Wikimedia Commons

8:54 AM EST, January 25, 2024

The official statement from Ukrainian military intelligence provides more details about the August operation, including the fact that 'the last successful task of Oleg Babi's reconnaissance group – the destruction and neutralization of the three Russian TU-22M3 bombers – significantly thwarted the Russian military-political leadership's plans to carry out missile attacks on Ukraine, and in fact, entirely destabilized the operation of long-range air bases and airports.'

A heroic mission by Ukrainians

Available information suggests that the reconnaissance unit, led by Col. Oleg Babi, traveled 370 miles on foot through hostile territory to execute a special combat mission. Their objective was to prevent bombings carried out by TU-22M3 bombers. The Ukrainians assert that their mission destroyed one such aircraft, as well as damage to two others.

The operation, according to intelligence, "destabilized the operation of airports and air bases," leading to "significant economic losses in the aggressor country and panic among the local population and Russian military personnel." Regrettably, the group responsible fell into a Russian ambush while trying to return to Ukrainian territory, and Babi was killed in the ensuing combat with the Russians.

About the Tu-22M bombers

The Russian authority does not publish information on the number of Tu-22M3 units presently in service in their military. However, the consensus estimation is around 40-50 aircraft. Putin's military uses this aircraft type to launch missile attacks on Ukraine, initiating missions from airports located in Russia and Belarus.

The Tu-22M bombers, also known as the Tu-26 or given the NATO code Backfire, were developed by the Russian aviation company Tupolev and produced by the Kazan Aviation Industry Association. Designed as a fast bomber, the Tu-22M has the ability for supersonic flight and can carry out bomb and missile strikes on ground targets within enemy territories. This task is facilitated by its wings' variable geometry design.

The Tu-22M3 is a revised design of the earlier Tu-22M model, with modifications addressing shortcomings found in the previous model. This bomber is 139ft long, with a maximum wingspan of 112ft and a height of 36ft. Its base weight is 118,000 lbs, and its maximum takeoff weight is 278,500 lbs, of which 52,910 kg can be allocated for armament. The Tu-22M3 has tricycle landing gear compatible with take-offs and landings on unprepared runways. Two Kuznetsov NK-25 turbofan engines power the aircraft.

In terms of performance, the aircraft has a cruising speed of 559mph and can reach a maximum speed of 1,429mph. Its maximum operational altitude is around 45,930ft, and it can ascend at a rate of 49.21ft/sec. The aircraft has an operational range of approximately 4349 miles. Besides guided and unguided bombs, the Tu-22M3 can also be armed with Kh-15 missiles (range up to 93 miles), Kh-22 missiles (range up to 311 miles), and the newer Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missiles, which have a range of up to 1243 miles. Its cruise missiles can be fitted with nuclear warheads.

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