Ukrainian Soviet-era mini-space shuttle shaped drone captured by pro-Russia separatists

An interesting reconnaissance drone was captured, almost intact, by the pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine.

Along with the Su-25, Su-27 and Mil Mi-24, the Ukrainian Air Force is operating its fleet of recently restored Soviet-era reconnaissance drones.

Among them, at least until Aug. 1, even one Tu-143 Reys, a type of drone developed from Tu-141, that pro-Russia separatists found almost intact in a field.

The Tu-143 is quite similar to the Tu-141, even though substantially smaller. It has an operative range of about 60 – 70 kilometers and a low-level flight capability.

Tu-143 detail

Image credit: DNR Press via @996al


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. I have to be honest it looks far more like a Battlestar Galactica viper than a space shuttle…….

  2. fake – I don’t think this frame would be able to manage smooth landing yet there is no signs of the impact, ..not even a track, look at the grass behind.. clearly it was (very poorly) planned and executed act of the information war

      • it is Tu-143 (not Tu-141) an outdated reconnaissance drone and you are right it does use parachutes, ..I got so fed up with propaganda from both sides that did not even bother to check the facts.. It could have been indeed used by the Ukranian military forces. I was wrong – I am taking it back.

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