Thursday, August 18, 2016
Some hasty accounts described the bombers as Tu-22s, but the Tu-22 (NATO reporting name Blinder) is a very different aircraft than the Tu-22MR (NATO reporting name Backfire). The former was a subsonic bomber that proved ineffective in service in Soviet days; the latter is a supersonic, intercontinental strategic bomber, rarely deployed outside Russia. The precedent deserves attention.
Russia says the Backfires are too heavy to use bases like Hmeymim in Syria, and that flying from Hamadan is much shorter an thus more efficient than flying from southern Russia, with greater tie over target, but the real news is that Iran permitted it. There may be implications in Iran's domestic politics; it also indicates that despite international criticism, Russia is prepared to increase the bombloads it is dropping on Syria.
Below: map, and two Russian propaganda clips.