Capable of performing nuclear strike, conventional attack and anti-ship missions; low-level penetration features ensure better survivability than for earlier Tupolev bombers; not expected to become ALCM carriers, although used for development launches, deployment of RKV-500B (AS-16 'Kickback') short-range attack missiles in Tu-22Ms has increased significantly their weapon carrying capability. Low/mid-wing configuration; large-span fixed centre-section and two outer steering sleeves variable from 20 degrees to 65 degrees sweepback; no anhedral or dihedral, but wing section so thin that outer panels flex considerably in flight; leading-edge fence towards tip of centre-section each side; basically circular fuselage forward of wings, with ogival dielectric nosecone; centre-fuselage faired into rectangular section air intake trunks, each with large splitter plate and assumed to embody complex variable geometry ramps; no external area ruling of trunks; all-swept tail surfaces, with large dorsal fin.
Landing gear: Retractable tricycle type; each mainwheel bogie comprises three pairs of wheels in tandem, with two forward pairs farther apart than rear pairs; bogies pivot inwards from vestigial fairing under centre-section on each side into bottom of fuselage.
Power plant: Two unidentified turbofans, side by side in rear fuselage, each more than 2500 kg with afterburning. Fuel is in integral tanks in wing central section and steering sleeves and in fuselage tanks.
Accomodation: Pilot and co-pilot side by side, under upward opening gull-wing doors hinged on centreline; two crew members further aft, as indicated by position of windows between flight deck and air intakes.
Avionics: Large missile targeting and navigation radar (NATO 'Down Beat') inside dielectric nosecone; radar ('Box Tail') for tail turret, above guns. Fairing with flat glazed front panel under front fuselage, for video camera to provide visual assistance for weapon aiming from high altitude. Very advanced ECM and ECCM; infrared missile approach warning sensor above fuselage aft of cockpit; eight chaff/flare multiple dispensers in bottom of each engine duct between wingroot and tailplane, another in each tailplane root fairing.
Armament: Max offensive weapon load three Kh-22 (NATO AS-4 'Kitchen') air-to-surface missiles, one semi-recessed under centre-fuselage, one under fixed centre-section panel of each wing; or 24,000 kg (52,910 lb) of conventional bombs or mines, half carried internally and half on racks under wings and engine air intake trunks. Internal bombs can be replaced by rotary launcher for six Kh-15P (AS-16 'Kickback') short-range attack missiles, with four more underwing as alternative to Kh-22s. Normal weapon load is single Kh-22 or 12,000 kg (26,455 lb) of bombs. Typical loads two FAB-3000, eight FAB-1500, 42 FAB-500 or 69 FAB-250 or -100 bombs (figures indicated weight in kg), or eight 1500 kg or 18 500 kg mines. One GSh-23 twin-barrel 23 mm gun, with barrels superimposed, in radar directed tail mounting.