TASS Russian news agency
“The pilots practiced fulfilling tasks in new geographical areas,” the press office said.
The aircraft of this type have been deployed at the Hmeymim airfield for the first time, which has become possible as a result of the upgrade of the second runway with the complete replacement of the runway’s surface and the installation of new lighting navigational and radio equipment.
After performing training missions over the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, the long-range bombers will return to their home stations in Russia.
Naval News comments:
As pointed out by The War Zone, at least one of the aircraft temporarily based in Syria was seen with a Kh-22 supersonic anti-ship missile.
The combat range of the Tu-22M3 (1,600 mi / 2,500 Km) combined with the range of the Kh-22 anti-ship missile (over 300 miles / 482 Km) means that Russia can virtually reach any vessel in the Mediterranean sea from the Hmeymim airbase: The distance between the Syrian coast and Gibraltar is about 2,200 miles / 3,600 km.
The War Zone was on point when saying that the appearance of the Backfire and anti-ship missile combination is fully in line with the Russian Ministry of Defense’s description of the current deployment as fulfilling “the tasks of mastering the airspace in the maritime zone of the Mediterranean Sea.”