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Intelligence chief: Russia has 27 operable Tu-22M3 bombers left following recent strikes

by Martin Fornusek August 23, 2023 11:26 PM 2 min read
Tu-22M and Tupolev Tu-160 take part in a rehearsal for 2020 Victory Day parade on Moscow's Tverskaya Street on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Following recent strikes against Russian military airports in Soltsy and Shaykovka, the Russian Air Force currently fields 27 operable Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said on Aug. 23.

"They had about 31 operable Tu-22s left, now 29, and not counting two others that are being repaired – 27," the head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR) said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Budanov added that, at the moment, Russia operates 436 aircraft in military operations against Ukraine.

Russian military air bases suffered a series of strikes in the past few days, which Ukrainian media attributed to agents working with Ukrainian military intelligence.

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On Aug. 19, a drone strike against the Soltsy airfield in Russia's Novgorod Oblast led to the destruction of a Tu-22M3 aircraft. Two more planes were also reportedly damaged in the attack, the New Voice outlet reported, citing its sources in the HUR.

Only two days later, a similar attack targeted the Shaykovka air base in Kaluga Oblast, with HUR spokesperson Andrii Yusov claiming that at least one aircraft was damaged as a result.

According to Budanov, two bombers were destroyed and two more were damaged in total following the attacks against the two airfields. The intelligence chief commented that strikes were conducted by "people who carry out certain tasks on the territory of the Russian Federation."

Russian forces regularly use Tu-22M3 bombers, commonly armed with AS-4 heavy anti-ship missiles, in airstrikes against Ukraine. Some of these planes carried out the heavy bombardment of Mariupol last year using unguided bombs.

UK Defense Ministry: Some drone strikes against Russian targets likely launched from within Russia
The recent successful drone strike against a Tu-22M3 bomber in Russia’s Novgorod Oblast “adds weight to the assessment” that some drone attacks against Russian targets are launched from within Russian territory, the U.K. Defense Ministry said on Aug. 22.
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