Pro-Russian Militants Shot Down This Soviet-Era UAV Over Ukraine

Pro-Russian Militants Shot Down This Soviet-Era UAV Over Ukraine

This weekend, Ukraine’s band of pro-Russian militants bagged themselves a big old bird when they knocked this Soviet-era reconnaissance UAV out of the skies over Shahtersk.

“Today we have shot down ‘something’ over our skies,” an unidentified fighter states in the video above. “At first, we thought it was an unmanned drone. But now we have doubts.” It was, in fact, an unmanned drone. The Tuploev Tu-143 tactical reconnaissance UAV, to be precise.

The Tu-143 drone was originally developed in the mid-1970s by Soviet engineers at Tupolev. The RATO-boosted UAV is designed to serve to gather short-range ISR, launching from an integrated transport truck and travelling only about 70km roundtrip via a 362Nm turbojet engine. They measure about 8m long with a 2m wingspan and weigh just over 1225kg. And while they’re quick fast with a 950km/h top speed, they are limited to a service ceiling of just 5000m. The UAVs are usually equipped with basic optical sensors, though some units can also be outfitted with radiation detection systems instead. 950 of these drones were produced between 1976 and the end of the Cold War.

“Don’t you think it is a bit too much?” Railed the man in the video against Kiev. “To use such weapons!” Whereas, apparently, supersonic missile batteries targeting commercial airliners is fair game. [WikiAviationistRT]

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