Tu-22. The first Soviet supersonic long-range sweep-wing jet bomber in  a series.

The Tupolev Tu-22 (NATO reporting name Blinder) was the first supersonic bomber to enter production in the Soviet Union. Manufactured by Tupolev, the Tu-22 entered service with the Soviet military in the 1960s.

The aircraft was a disappointment, lacking both the speed and range that had been expected. It was also a difficult design to fly and maintain. It was produced in small numbers, especially compared to the Tupolev Tu-16 it was designed to replace. The aircraft was later adapted for other roles, notably as the Tu-22R reconnaissance aircraft and as a carrier for the long-range Kh-22 antiship missile.

Tu-22s were sold to other nations, including Libya and Iraq. The Tu-22 was one of the few Soviet jet bombers to see combat: Libyan Tu-22s were used against Tanzania and Chad, and Iraqi Tu-22s were used during the Iran–Iraq War.

The Tu-22 has a low-middle mounted wing swept at an angle of 55°. The two large turbojet engines, originally 159 kN (36,000 lbf) Dobrynin VD-7M, later 162 kN (36,000 lbf) Kolesov RD-7M2, are mounted atop the rear fuselage on either side of the large vertical stabilizer, with a low-mounted tailplane. Continuing a Tupolev OKB design feature, the main landing gear are mounted in pods at the trailing edge of each wing. The highly swept wings gave little drag at transonic speeds, but resulted in very high landing speeds and a long take-off run.

The Tu-22’s defensive armament, operated by the weapons officer, consisted of a remotely controlled tail turret beneath the engine pods, containing a single 23 mm (0.906 in) R-23 gun. The turret was directed by a small PRS-3A Argon gun-laying radar due to the weapons officer’s total lack of rear visibility (and generally much more accurate and precise fire control than optical aiming).

The bomber’s main weapon load was carried in a fuselage bomb bay between the wings, capable of carrying a variety of free-fall weapons – up to 24 FAB-500 general-purpose bombs, one 9,000 kg (20,000 lb) FAB-9000 bomb, or various nuclear bombs. On the Tu-22K, the bay was reconfigured to carry one Raduga Kh-22 (AS-4 Kitchen) missile semirecessed beneath the fuselage. The enormous weapon was big enough to have a substantial effect on handling and performance, and was also a safety hazard.

The early Tu-22B had an optical bombing system (which was retained by the Tu-22R), with a Rubin-1A navigation/attack radar. The Tu-22K had the Leninets PN (NATO reporting name ‘Down Beat’) to guide the Kh-22 missile. The Tu-22R could carry a camera array or an APP-22 jammer pack in the bomb bay as an alternative to bombs. Some Tu-22Rs were fitted with the Kub ELINT system, and later with an under-fuselage pallet for M-202 Shompol side-looking airborne radar, as well as cameras and an infrared line scanner. A few Tu-22Ks were modified to Tu-22KP or Tu-22KPD configuration with Kurs-N SIGINT equipment to detect enemy radar systems and provide compatibility with the Kh-22P antiradiation missile.

The Tu-22’s cockpit placed the pilot forward, offset slightly to the left, with the weapons officer behind and the navigator below, within the fuselage, sitting on downwards-firing ejector seats. The downward direction meant the minimum altitude for ejection was 350 m (1,150 ft), which precluded their use during take-off and landing, when most accidents occur. The crew entered the plane by lowering the seats on rails and then climbing external stepladders, sitting in the seats, and then being cranked upward into the cockpit.

Flight range – 5650 km, max speed – 1640 km/h 

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