On Wednesday a pair of Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bombers took part in a five-hour flight over the neutral waters of the Black Sea, Russian state media announced. The flights, which were over forty-five hundred kilometers, were likely meant to be a display of the capabilities of the long-range bombers.
“Two Russian Tu-22M3 long-range aviation strategic bombers conducted a scheduled flight in the air space over the neutral waters of the Black Sea,” the Russian Defense Ministry told Tass, adding that “at certain parts of their flight route, the planes were escorted by Russian Su-27 fighters, as well as foreign jets.”
Tass reported that the aircraft regularly conducts flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic, the Northern Atlantic, the Black and Baltic Seas and the Pacific Ocean. The Ministry has said all of the flights of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ planes take place in strict compliance with the international air law.
The Russian Tu-22M3 was reclassified from tactical bomber to heavy, nuclear-capable strategic bomber. The Tu-22 was originally introduced in 1983, and the M3 models remained in service after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Despite the fact that the aircraft were introduced in the late Cold War, the Tu-22M3 has remained the face of the Russian Aerospace Forces and as noted by the Defense Ministry the aircraft has flown patrol missions across Europe and Asia.