The disappearance of the Soviet Union in 1991 also meant a considerable reduction in the resources of that former military power.
Russia was not able to maintain all the land, air and naval resources that the USSR had, and this meant the abandonment of many old military bases. In some cases, that meant abandoning really good planes, like the ones we're dealing with today.
Vozdvizhenka Air Base was founded in 1933 next to that town in Primorsky Krai, a region of eastern Russia that borders North Korea. In the 1960s, this base was the only one east of the Ural Mountains that housed Tupolev Tu-22 bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
In the 1970s, this base received the latest Tupolev Tu-22M, supersonic bombers with variable geometry wings: the Soviet equivalent of the American B-1B Lancer.
The Tu-22Ms were assigned to the 444th Regiment of the 324th Heavy Bombardment Aviation Division of the Soviet Air Force.
In 1974, Vozdvizhenka was the place chosen for the meeting between US President Gerald Ford and Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev, who arrived at the base in their respective planes.
After the fall of the USSR, the Russian Air Force retained the 444th Regiment based at Vozdvizhenka. However, economic problems and reduced forces led Russia to reduce almost the fifth part of its fleet of 497 Tu-22Ms. These problems seriously affected the 444th Regiment, but despite everything it managed to continue its activity.
In 1997, the Alexander Nevsky Heavy Bombardment Aviation Regiment was transferred to Vozdvizhenka, merging with the 444th Regiment.
In June 2009, the cuts reached the Vozdvizhenka Air Base. The bombers that were still in service were transferred to the Belaya Air Base, in Usolye-Sibirskoye, in south-eastern Siberia. On August 22 of that year the Regiment said goodbye to its Flag and on December 1 the unit was dissolved.
Inoperative Tupolex Tu-22Ms were scrapped, in some cases, or abandoned at Vozdvizhenka, turning this base into an unlikely graveyard of supersonic bombers.
A total of 18 Tu-22M3s remained at Vozdvizhenka waiting to be scrapped, slowly falling apart over time due to the deactivation of the base.
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