A Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bomber had to carry out an emergency landing after one of its two engines failed, on December 17, 2019. The plane was on a training exercise in the Astrakhan oblast.
The aircraft landed in a field, seven kilometers away from the nearest runway. “Thanks to the skillful actions of the crew, the aircraft with a failed engine was deflected away from any habitation and landed on the ground,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement. Both pilots managed to leave the bomber safely. The aircraft, which did not carry any ordnance, however did catch fire. Except for the aircraft, no damage or injuries were reported.
The two pilots were nominated for state awards by their commander. “For the selfless actions of the Tu-22 crew, who managed to fly the plane with the engine that failed away from the village, the command petitioned the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to submit pilots for state awards,” said the minister. The bomber was based in Shaykovka airbase, in Kaluga oblast.
The Tupolev Tu-22M is a strategic bomber with a variable-sweep wing developed during the Soviet era. It was later followed by several modernized versions, including the Tu-22M3 “Backfire”. Operated by four crew members, this variant can reach speeds above 2,000 km/h and deliver more than 12 tons of ordnance. It was recently deployed in Syria and is part of the Russian nuclear deterrence strategy.
Earlier this year, another Tu-22M was involved in a less fortunate accident. On January 22, 2019, while landing in heavy snowfall at Olenya base near Murmansk, in northern Russia, after a training mission, a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber crashed. Three out of four crew members were killed.