The aircraft was developed to overcome the service limitations of the Yakovlev Yak-25, and failure of the Lavochkin La-250, by providing a long range, all weather interceptor capable of defending the USSR. The resulting AL-7F powered aircraft had an area ruled fuselage containing eight fuel tanks, supplemented with tanks in the wings. These contained a total fuel supply of 4,092 Imp gal (18,600 litres, allowing the type to perform long range interception patrols and 2 hour escort missions, without resorting to in flight refueling or carrying drop tanks.
The first flight of the Tu-28 took place in the year 1961. The prototype was delivered to the Air Force on 18th March 1961 and was unveiled during the Tushino air parade. The first designation was Tu-28, but this was later changed to Tu-128. The first operational variant had two stabilizers on its tail, and was equipped with two guided missiles.[N 1] On the Tushino air parade in 1967 the Tu-128P was unveiled, this time without stabilizators on the tail. The cockpit was also modified and now it was armed with four missiles. The project to make a bomber of the Tu-128B was never completed, because of the more advanced Sukhoi Su-24.[N 2]
The main weapons of the Tu-28 were K80 (NATO reporting name: AA-5 "Ash") Air-to-Air missiles. The missiles were later designated as R-4R and R-4T. The main role of the Tu-128 was to intercept large bombers, like the B-52 Stratofortress, but it was not designed to battle other fighters, because of its really bad agility. Because of its high range it had a maximum flight endurance of 3.5 hours.
- ↑ A pair of ventral fins were later added.
- ↑ Production clearance was delayed until 1966 due to poor subsonic handling and problems with the Smerch fire control radar.