A Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber crashed while attempting to land during an arctic blizzard in Marmansk. The aircraft reportedly broke apart when it hit the runway, killing two of the four-man crew immediately. The other two crew members were rushed to a nearby hospital, where local media outlets are now reporting that one more may have died while undergoing treatment. Fighter Sweep was unable to independently verify those claims.

On 22 January, the Tu-22M3, after completing a scheduled training flight in the Murmansk region, made a hard landing when it encountered heavy snow… According to a report, two pilots were taken to a medical facility, where they’re receiving the necessary assistance. Two crew members were killed”, the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The crash took place at approximately 1:40 p.m. local time, or 5:40 a.m. on America’s East coast. While no official statement has been made regarding the cause of the crash or whether or not an investigation has been launched, Russian state outlets have cited inclement weather as a likely factor.

This new crash comes only days after two Russian Su-34 fighter/bombers collided in mid-air during a training flight over the Sea of Japan. One aircraft went down and both crew members were recovered by search and rescue teams. The other managed to make it back to a nearby airstrip.

Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire-C (WikiMedia Commons)

The Russian Tu-22M first flew in the early 1970s, with the Tu-22M3 variant, also known as the Backfire, entering into service around ten years later. Like America’s B-1B Lancer, the Tu-22M boasts a variable-sweep wing design and is capable of sustaining supersonic speeds (as high as Mach 1.8), but unlike the B-1B, the Tu-22M3 is a nuclear capable strategic bomber. America’s B-1B had its nuclear wings clipped as a part of the START nuclear treaty with Russia and completed its conversion to conventional payloads only in 2011.

Russia has been rapidly expanding its presence throughout the Arctic, including the establishment of new air strips. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Russian Air Force flew over a hundred reconnaissance and patrol flights from Arctic air strips in 2018.


Feature image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons