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, below. "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 43 miles roundtrip via a 267 lbf turbojet engine. They measure about eight metres in length with a 2.1-metres wingspan and weigh just over 1.2 tonnes.
And while they're quick fast with a 590 mph top speed, they are limited to a service ceiling of just 16,400 feet (4,999m). The UAVs are usually equipped with basic optical sensors, though some units can also be outfitted with radiation detection systems instead. Between 1976 and the end of the Cold War, 950 of these drones were produced.
"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. [Wiki - Aviationist - RT]