The Tupolev Tu-22M (Туполев Ту-22М) (NATO reporting name: "Backfire") is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Soviet Union. Significant numbers remain in service with the Russian Air Force.
The first prototype, Tu-22M0, first flew on 30 August 1969. The resultant aircraft was first seen by NATO observers shortly thereafter. For several years it was believed in the West that its service designation was Tu-26. During the SALT negotiations of the 1980s the Soviets insisted it was the Tu-22M. At the time, Western authorities suspected that the misleading designation was intended to suggest that it was simply a derivative of the Tu-22 rather than the more advanced and capable weapon it actually was.
During the Cold War, the Tu-22M was operated by the VVS (Soviet Air Force) in a strategic bombing role, and by the AVMF (Aviatsiya Voyenno-Morskogo Flota, Soviet Naval Aviation) in a long-range maritime anti-shipping role.
The Tu-22M was first used in combat in Afghanistan from 1987 to 1989. Its usage was similar to the United States Air Force deployment of B-52 Stratofortress bombers in the Vietnam War, dropping large tonnages of conventional ordnance. The Russian Federation used the Tu-22M3 in combat in Chechnya during 1995, performing strikes near Grozny.
At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, some 370 remained in CIS service. Production ended in 1993. The fleet strength was about 84 aircraft in 2008, with an additional 93 in reserve.
Source: Wikipedia, "Tupolev Tu-22M", available under the CC-BY-SA License.