Amateur Drones Had Some Fun and Drove Russian Bombers From Their Base

Midway through the 1960s, the Tupolev Tu-22M ‘Backfire’ strategic bomber was designed to surmount the formidable air defenses surrounding U.S. aircraft carriers and NATO military bases. Each Tu-22M3 costs the equivalent of millions of dollars to enhance the survivability of the attacking aircraft should World War III break out. Each is equipped with swing-wings and NK-25 turbofan engines, enabling it to race at twice the speed of sound and graze the surface at lesser velocities.

But recently, the fearsome Soviet bomber met its match in combat, in the form of quadcopter hobby/camera drones—ones that any civilian can buy online for between $400 and $2,000.

At roughly 10 a.m. last Saturday, several of these quadcopters came buzzing down upon Soltsy-2 airbase in northwestern Russia near Novogorod. A satellite photo taken on August 16 shows that 10 Backfire bombers of the 40th Mixed Aviation Regiment were stationed there.


According to multiple sources, one or two additional Tu-22Ms were damaged or destroyed in the attack.

Then, at 8 a.m. local time on Monday, a second drone strike struck an airbase at Shaykova, which was much closer to the Ukrainian frontier and housed the Tu-22M3s of the 52nd Heavy Bomber regiment. A further Tu-22M3 was reportedly damaged, though visual confirmation has not yet emerged. The assault was again carried out by quadcopters designed for civilian use that were armed with explosives and powered by batteries with increased capacity. According to Russian sources, either no harm was inflicted or a decommissioned aircraft was damaged.

A spokesperson later told The Drive on Monday that the Ukrainian GUR intelligence service was responsible for coordinating the attacks using “people recruited from Central Russia.”