China is to purchase Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers through a contract with the Russian Federation for 36 aircraft.
The agreement calls for 12 bombers to be delivered first and the other 24 coming in a second tranche.
The Tupolev Tu-22M3 is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Soviet Union. A number the bombers remain in service with the Russian military — as of 2010, the Russian air force fielded 93 Tupolev Tu-22s and the Russian navy 58 — and represent a significant upgrading of the operational abilities of the Chinese air forces.
Since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the Tupolev company has sought export customers for Tu-22M bombers.
The Tupolev Tu-22M3 can fly at 1,240 mph and has a 1,500-mile combat radius.
The Chinese naval air forces designation for the Tu-22M3 will be the “H-10.”
The Tu-22, a Soviet-era aircraft, was designed as a long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber and the Chinese variants will be updated with indigenous systems and an extended range. That will allow Beijing to extend its military presence by having a counter to many advanced Western latest generations weapon systems.
The Tupolev Tu-22M3 aircraft will replace China’s H-6 bombers, which are Chinese-built versions of an older Tupolev design, the Tu-16.
Analysts are speculating on what weaponry might be included with the bomber sale, which might include the Russian-built Raduga Kh-22 long-range, anti-ship missile, the Viet Times reported Tuesday.
China’s acquisition of the Tu-22M3 will introduce another element into the evolving situation in the western Pacific, where the United States is increasingly shifting military forces.