Everything you need to know about the Russian Tu-22M3 bomber plane and how Ukraine said it shot one down in war first

  • Ukraine said it had shot down a Russian supersonic Tu-22M3 plane.

  • It marks the first time Ukrainian forces have successfully taken down one of the bomber planes.

  • Here's everything you need to know about the Tu-22M3 and how Ukraine says it shot it down.

Ukrainian intelligence said on Friday that it had shot down a feared Russian Tu-22M3 bomber plane for the first time as it launched a combat mission on Ukraine.

The Tu-22M3, which has the NATO codename "Backfire," is a "long-range supersonic missile carrier bomber," according to its manufacturer Tupolev's website.

The Soviet-era plane, made from alloys of aluminum, titanium, and magnesium, as well as "high-strength and heat-resistant steels," made its maiden flight in 1977, with the most up-to-date version entering service in 2018.

It is designed to take out sea- and ground-based targets using guided missiles and aerial bombs.

Tupolev describes the Tu-22M aircraft series as a "conventionally designed aircraft with a variable-swept low wing."

A weeklong ambush

Tu-22M3 bomber on fire after crash-landing in Stavropol
Image appearing to show the Tu-22M3 aircraft after crashing.Vladimir Vladimirov

Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (HUR), told BBC Ukraine that the Tu-22M3 carries Kh-22 missiles, which he said "have perhaps brought the most destruction" to Odesa in southern Ukraine.

The Kh-22 missile was originally designed to target ships and is capable of carrying either a nuclear or a conventional warhead.

Budanov added that his forces had been ready for the bomber. "For a week we were, put it this way, lying in ambush. We were waiting for it to reach the right line," he said.

The HUR said the operation led to "the first successful destruction of a strategic bomber in the air during a combat mission during Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine."

A video circulating on social media appeared to show the bomber in flames and falling from the sky.

Despite Russia's claim that the bomber had crashed, the British Ministry of Defence said in an update on the Russia-Ukraine war on Saturday that "it is almost certain that reports of a S-200 missile (SA-5) being used are accurate and that this was another successful Ukrainian action against the Russian Air Force."

It added that it was "highly likely that Russia has now sustained at least 100 fixed-wing combat aircraft losses to date."

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