VT condolences to the Russian Tu-22M3 crew families


[ Editor’s Note: I was surprised to read that the Russian big Tu-22M3 bomber training flights in blizzards were routine, which seems hard to believe. Russia does not have many of these planes, nor experienced crews. Losing one is a big deal.

I have no idea what the instrument state of the art is these days for the pilots flying instruments in weather like this. It seems his approach was perfect, but you can tell just before the crash that he is coming in too hard, and bounces it.

It was over quick, which any pilot will tell you is a good way to go versus being roasted alive in a flaming wreck. The captain amazingly survived, a lucky and unlucky day, which can be the worst kind if he blames himself for the crash, and the investigators agree.

Our condolences go out to the families, who dread getting a call on an incident like this, and pray that it will never happenJim W. Dean ]

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– First published … January 27, 2019



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  1. From what I have been able to glean the Tu-22M3 was out on a practice mission and was summoned home due to a fast incoming very nasty winter storm. This meant that it still had a very high fuel load on board as there was insufficient time to dump it, taking it possibly 20 tons over its normal landing weight. That in combination with the, not apparently abnormal, high speed was probably a significant factor. Other factors could include a possible weakness at the break point as the last TU-22M3 crash in 2017, a runway overshoot, showed damage in the same place on the top of the fuselage but no shear.

    As for the history of this particular aircraft, the aircraft had s/n 1683134, left the factory in March 1986 and went through a major overhaul in 2012. It’s done 1021 landings throughout its lifetime, 650 of those since that overhaul. Not particularly stressful a career I’d say.

    The initial investigation said pilot error nut there is now a criminal investigation underway on maintenance etc. Very sad but amazing anyone got out alive.

    • Thanks for this. And with the heavy fuel load he had to come in at a higher then normal speed, but not so high that he would overshoot the runway, or not be able to brake it time when landing fast with that much fuel. With conditions as bad as they were they could not get any worse, and if they have a big fuel load, why not fly to another base where there was not a blizzard? We may learn from the report, if they choose to publish what really happened. But such a situation like this must have been anticipated in normal protocols with the technical aspect pre-reviewed, so there is not “winging it” decision process as to what is technically possible and not. I just can’t see what the problem would have been to dump fuel or fly to another base.

  2. As far as we have air-bases in the North, the weather there is mostly nasty.
    To a certain extent, weather conditions are not an obstacle. But this time something went wrong. I do not doubt the professionalism of the pilots. Very very sorry for the pilots. They went to heaven forever.
    I want to remind you that a few days before that, 2 newest Su-34 (Duckling) aircrafts collided in the air while practicing the flight maneuver in close formation. 4 pilots ejected and fell into the icy sea, near Sakhalin. 1 survived, three froze to death. In this case, the stupid bravado led to a fatal error …

  3. The aerodynamic changes increased its top speed to Mach 2.05 and its range by one third compared to the Tu-22M2.[64] It has a revised tail turret with a single cannon, and provision for an internal rotary launcher for the Raduga Kh-15 missile, similar to the American AGM-69 SRAM. It was nicknamed Troika (‘Trio’ or third) in Russian service. 268 were built until 1993.[67][68][64]

    • As built, the Tu-22M included the provision for a retractable probe in the upper part of the nose for aerial refueling. The probe was reportedly removed as a result of the SALT negotiations, because with refueling it was considered an intercontinental range strategic bomber.[69] The probe can be reinstated if needed.[2][70]
      Tu-22M3s used to attack targets in Syria underwent modernization, during which the SVP-24-22 specialized computing subsystems were installed on them, significantly increased the accuracy of the bombing.

  4. We reported about the crash of a Russian Tu-22M3 on January 22nd, 2019. The incident occurred while the jet was returning to Olenya Air Base in Russia’s frigid Murmansk Oblast around 1:30pm Moscow time, with reports of poor weather possibly contributing to the incident that supposedly killed three crewmen. A horrific video has surfaced of the crash landing that supports this account.

    http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26178/dramatic-video-of-russian-tu-22m3-crash-landing-in-bad-weather-emerges …..

    The later Tu-22M3 (NATO: Backfire-C), which first flew in 1977, introduced into operation in 1983[64] and officially entered service in 1989,[65] had new NK-25 engines with substantially more power, wedge-shaped intake ramps similar to the MiG-25, wings with greater maximum sweep and a recontoured nose housing a new Almaz PNA (Planeta Nositel, izdeliye 030A) navigation/attack radar (NATO ‘Down Beat’)[66] radar and NK-45 nav/attack system, which provides much-improved low-altitude flight.

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