Chinese websites are again reporting that Russia has agreed to sell Beijing the production line for the Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber at a cost of $1.5 billion.
Once in service with the Chinese Naval Air Forces the Tu-22M3 will be known as the “H-10″.
The deal struck with Russia includes 36 aircraft: a batch of 12 followed by a second batch of 24 additional bombers.
The Tu-22 will be employed in the maritime attack role and used to attack targets from low levels to avoid radar detection.
The Tu-22 is a Soviet supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber. It was developed during the Cold War and is among the closest things to a modern stealth bomber. However, it will get updated with indigenous systems and an extended range making it a significant threat to many latest generations weapon systems.
That’s even more true if the deal with Russia includes the Raduga Kh-22 (AS-4 ‘Kitchen’) long-range anti-ship missile, in which case this could be a significant change in the strategic balance of the region.
The Tu-22 bombers will give China another tool to pursue the area denial strategy in the South China Sea and the Pacific theatre; a fast platform to launch cruise missiles, conventional or nuclear weapons in various regional war scenarios.
In other words, a brand new threat to the U.S. Navy in the region.