LONDON: British military intelligence said on Tuesday that a weekend drone attack on an airfield deep inside Russia which Moscow blamed on Ukraine is highly likely to have destroyed a nuclear-capable TU-22M3 supersonic long-range bomber.
Kyiv, which on Monday claimed to have attacked another Russian military airfield, says Russia has used the TU-22M3 to bomb targets across Ukraine with conventional munitions. Western military experts believe Russia has around 60 of the aircraft.
The destruction of the plane, which can be fitted with conventional or nuclear warheads, underscores the vulnerability to drone attack of Russia’s fleet of ageing but lethal long-range bombers that are a major part of Moscow’s war effort.
According to satellite imagery, the attack prompted Russia to relocate other planes of the same type from the airfield to alternative bases further from Ukraine. Unconfirmed media reports said they had been flown to a base in northern Russia.
Published in Dawn, August 23th, 2023