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Cheering Its Own Misery – Why Did Ukrαine ‘Celebrate’ Downing Of Its Own Tupolev Tu-143 Drone By Russiα?

The Ukrαine wαr seems to have undeniably changed the laws of modern wαrfare. In terms of drones, Ukrαinian troops have proved the spectrum of operations that they can conduct, leading to ‘massive losses’ for the Russiαns.

While the Turkish TB-2 continues to make headlines by being at the vanguard of Ukrαine’s offensive against enemy troops, several other drones are also gaining traction across the battlefield despite not being as capable as the TB-2.

One such drone, Tu-143 Reys made news after Moscow claimed to have sʜᴏᴛ ɪᴛ ᴅᴏᴡɴ. On 15 April, Russiαn Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkoc announced that Russiαn air defense systems sʜᴏᴛ ɪᴛ ᴅᴏᴡɴ a Ukrαinian Tu-143 Reys unmanned aerial vehicle. The drone, however, ᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴋɴᴏᴄᴋᴇᴅ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ᴅᴀʏs ʙᴇғᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴀɴɴᴏᴜɴᴄᴇᴍᴇɴᴛ.

ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜ ᴛʜɪs ɪs ᴀ ʟᴏᴡ-ᴇɴᴅ sʏsᴛᴇᴍ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴍᴀʏ ʙᴇ ᴇᴀsɪʟʏ ʙʟᴏᴡɴ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴏғ ᴛʜᴇ sᴋʏ ʙʏ ʀᴜssɪᴀɴ ᴅᴇғᴇɴsᴇ sʏsᴛᴇᴍs, Ukrαine appears to be pleased with the results it is achieving through this drone in the battle.

Experts believe that these obsolete drones are used to locate the enemy air defense systems.

Tu-143 Reys

The Tu-143 Reys is a reconnaissance UAV developed by the Soviet Union. It began mass manufacture in the 1970s. The drone is equipped with Special sensors, as well as photo, television, and infrared instruments.

This UAV is eight meters long, with wings that span 2.24 meters, according to open-source data. It weighs 1,230 kilos and has a top speed of 950 kilometers per hour. The UAV is capable of operating at a maximum height of 1,000 meters and the flight range is 180 kilometers.

However, Tu-143 Reys isn’t the only Soviet-era drone that Kyiv is employing against its adversary. Another drone, Tu-141, gained attention last month when it crashed in Croatia’s capital after flying from Ukrαine’s border to Zagreb.

Following Russiα’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukrαine modernized and made these drones serviceable. The aircraft, which looks more like a cruise missile than a standard drone, is rocket-launched from its trailer and follows a predefined track at transonic speed while gathering multiple types of intelligence before parachute recovery.

Ukrαine is the Tu-141’s sole known active user and its origins can be traced back to its predecessor, the Tu-123, which was first piloted in 1960.

These Soviet-era drones appear to be fulfilling a variety of critical roles for the Ukrαinian military. Notably, in addition to locating the enemy air defenses, Kyiv is also said to be using these models as a target drone and possibly also as a decoy.

It is understandable that, while being obsolete systems, these drones, even if just once successful, may be regarded as a considerable asset for Ukrαine.

Jesus Roman, a defense enthusiast who spoke with the EurAsian Times, said that there are three plausible explanations for Ukrαine’s use of obsolete drones. To begin with, he suggested that these drones may be disguised as planes to sabotage Russiαn air defense systems.

Second, these drones might be sent while posing as TB-2, and he believes the drone accident in Croatia was a result of this. Finally, these drones may be used ᴛᴏ ᴛʀᴀᴄᴋ ᴅᴏᴡɴ ʀᴜssɪᴀɴ ᴀɪʀ ᴅᴇғᴇɴsᴇ sʏsᴛᴇᴍs ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇɴ ᴄʀᴀsʜ ɪɴᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇᴍ ᴀғᴛᴇʀᴡᴀʀᴅ, ʜᴇ ᴀᴅᴅᴇᴅ.

Low-Cost or COTS Drones

ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʟᴀsᴛ ғᴇᴡ ᴡᴇᴇᴋs, ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴜssɪᴀɴ ᴍɪɴɪsᴛʀʏ ᴏғ ᴅᴇғᴇɴsᴇ ʜᴀs ᴀʟsᴏ ʀᴇʟᴇᴀsᴇᴅ ᴅʀᴏɴᴇ ғᴏᴏᴛᴀɢᴇ ᴏғ ᴅᴇᴀᴅʟʏ ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋs ᴏɴ ᴜᴋʀᴀɪɴɪᴀɴ ᴍɪʟɪᴛᴀʀʏ ᴀssᴇᴛs. ᴀsɪᴅᴇ ғʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴀᴛ, ᴠᴀʀɪᴏᴜs ᴏᴘᴇɴ-sᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇʟʟɪɢᴇɴᴄᴇ ᴀᴄᴄᴏᴜɴᴛs ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴅᴏᴄᴜᴍᴇɴᴛɪɴɢ ᴍᴏsᴄᴏᴡ’s ᴅʀᴏɴᴇ-ʀᴇʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᴍɪssɪᴏɴs ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴏɴɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴡᴀʀ.

The Kremlin, on the other hand, does not appear to be lagging behind Kyiv and is also employing drones for a wide range of missions. Last month, Ukrαinian forces captured an Eniksan E95M target drone, which was reportedly meant to draw out Ukrαinian Air Defenses for targeting.

Furthermore, commercial drones are also increasingly being used in the current wαr. These types of drones are being used on both sides because of their cost, flight duration, and range.

Roman noted, “First of all, I know that lots of people are talking about the use of low-cost or COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) drones by Ukrαinian units to pinpoint positions and smash them with artillery. Unfortunately, this is nothing new, It is not new by Ukrαinians and it is not new by Russiαns either.”

“While Russiαns generally would rely back then on the proprietary military systems they have Orlan-10s, although we could open the door if this drone is really up to Western standards when it comes to technology… In any case, because Russiαns had a doctrinal concept of integrating UAVs and artillery this was easy and straight forwards… this also applies to the electromagnetic spectrum (examples of that is the Zelenopillia attack using MLRS and Orlans all connected to EW systems),” he added.

He went on to explain that “Ukrαinians, on the other hand, did not have this doctrinal history with drones and artillery, so they had to start from scratch… they didn’t have “an industry” (not that Russiαns have a great industry), so they had to start from scratch… that is why they ended up using commercial drones or AliBaba or AliExpress drones heavily modified to use them (like Leleka-100 UAV for example, but not the only one…. sometimes they do not even modify them, like DJI ones).”

Russiα’s Failure?

ᴛʜʀᴏᴜɢʜᴏᴜᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏɴғʟɪᴄᴛ, ᴛᴜʀᴋɪsʜ ᴅʀᴏɴᴇs ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴡʀᴇᴀᴋᴇᴅ ʜᴀᴠᴏᴄ ᴏɴ ʀᴜssɪᴀɴ ғᴏʀᴄᴇs. ᴛʙ-𝟸 ʜᴀs ᴄᴇʀᴛᴀɪɴʟʏ ʙᴇᴄᴏᴍᴇ ᴀ sᴇʀɪᴏᴜs ɪssᴜᴇ ғᴏʀ ᴘᴜᴛɪɴ’s ғᴏʀᴄᴇs. ᴛʜɪs ᴅʀᴏɴᴇ ʜᴀs ɢᴀɪɴᴇᴅ ɴᴏᴛᴏʀɪᴇᴛʏ ᴀғᴛᴇʀ ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏɪɴɢ ʟᴀʀɢᴇ ɴᴜᴍʙᴇʀs ᴏғ ᴀʀᴍᴏʀᴇᴅ ᴠᴇʜɪᴄʟᴇs ᴀɴᴅ sʜᴏʀᴛ-ʀᴀɴɢᴇ ᴀɪʀ ᴅᴇғᴇɴsᴇ sʏsᴛᴇᴍs ɪɴ sʏʀɪᴀ, ʟɪʙʏᴀ, ɴᴀɢᴏʀɴᴏ-ᴋᴀʀᴀʙᴀᴋʜ, ᴀɴᴅ, ᴍᴏsᴛ ʀᴇᴄᴇɴᴛʟʏ, ᴜᴋʀᴀɪɴᴇ.

ᴛʜɪs ᴅʀᴏɴᴇ ɪs ᴀʟsᴏ sᴜsᴘᴇᴄᴛᴇᴅ ᴏғ ʙᴇɪɴɢ ɪɴᴠᴏʟᴠᴇᴅ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇᴄᴇɴᴛ sɪɴᴋɪɴɢ ᴏғ ʀᴜssɪᴀ’s 𝟷𝟸,𝟶𝟶𝟶-ᴛᴏɴ ʙʟᴀᴄᴋ sᴇᴀ ғʟᴀɢsʜɪᴘ, ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴀʀsʜɪᴘ ᴍᴏsᴋᴠᴀ.