The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has reported the prevention of an attempt by Ukrainian special services to recruit a Russian pilot for the hijacking of a Tu-22M3 supersonic strategic bomber. According to the FSB’s Public Affairs Center, this operation, allegedly involving NATO intelligence services, was aimed at seizing control of the aircraft and directing it towards Ukrainian territory. The FSB emphasized that Ukrainian intelligence had sought to entice a Russian military pilot with financial incentives and the prospect of Italian citizenship.

This incident marks the latest in a series of similar efforts, with the first documented attempt occurring in 2022. Previously, in the summer of that year, the FSB had intercepted a comparable operation orchestrated by Ukrainian Special Services. Ukrainian military intelligence officers, reportedly acting under orders from their political leadership, had approached Russian pilots, offering monetary rewards and the promise of European Union citizenship.

The Tu-22M3, known by its NATO reporting name ‘Backfire-C,’ is a long-range strategic bomber operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces. Developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau, this aircraft features a variable-sweep wing design and is equipped with advanced avionics, navigation systems, and a robust armament including anti-ship missiles and nuclear-capable ordnance. Its operational capabilities enable it to conduct a range of missions including strategic bombing, maritime strikes, and reconnaissance, demonstrating its importance in Russia’s military strategy.