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In mid-1993, China approached Russia concerning the sale of a number of Tu-22M Backfire strike aircraft to replace its aging H-6 Badger bomber fleet. No other weapon system has caused as much concern as did China's efforts to obtain the long-range Tu-22M Backfire bomber. With a a dual use unrefueled range of 4000km, this purchase alone would have substantially upgraded Chinese air coverage of the area around Taiwan or the South China Sea. Though spare parts would become a problem, the mere possession of this system, let alone any production capability, would have constituted a substantial upgrade to the Chinese Air Force.

However, reports that China actually purchase four of the 4 Tu-22M [Tu-26] long-range BACKFIRE bombers proved unfounded. The deal apparently foundered due to Russian concerns that the sale of such an advanced aircraft would alter the military balance in the area. Following Russia's rejection to sell any Tu-22M BACKFIRE bombers to China, it remains to be seen whether and how the PLAAF will replace its obsolescent strategic bomber force.

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