Tupolev Tu-143

The Tupolev Tu-143 Reys (Flight or Trip, Russian: Рейс) was a Soviet unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in service with the Soviet Army and a number of its Warsaw Pact and Middle East allies during the late 1970s and 1980s. It contained a reconnaissance pod that was retrieved after flight, and from which imagery was contained.[1]

Tu-143
Tu-143 "Reys"
Role unmanned reconnaissance aircraft
Manufacturer Tupolev
First flight 1970 (Tu-243 1987)
Introduction 1976 (officially adopted in 1982) (Tu-243 1999)
Status Active
Primary user Soviet Union
Russia
Ukraine
Produced 1973–1989 (Tu-243 1994-)
Number built 950
Developed from Tupolev Tu-141

History

Development

The Tu-143 was introduced in 1976 and strongly resembled the Tu-141, but was substantially scaled-down. It was a short-range (60–70 kilometer) tactical reconnaissance system and had low-level flight capability. The Tu-143 was truck-launched with JATO boosting, recovered by parachute, and powered by a TR3-117 turbojet with 5.8 kN (590 kgf, 267 lbf) thrust. The initial version carried film cameras, but later versions carried a TV or radiation detection payload, with data relayed to a ground station over a datalink. Some 950 units were produced in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Tu-143 was used by Syria in reconnaissance missions over Israel and Lebanon during the 1982 Lebanon War, as well as by Soviet forces in Afghanistan during the Soviet–Afghan War.

M-143 variant

A target drone version, the M-143, was introduced in the mid-1980s.

Tu-243 variant

The Tu-143 was followed into service in the late 1990s by the similar but improved "Tu-243 Reys-D", with a 25 cm (10 inch) fuselage stretch, to provide greater fuel capacity and about twice the range; it had an uprated TR3-117 engine with 6.28 kN (640 kgf, 1,410 lbf) thrust; and improved low-altitude guidance.[2]

Tu-300 variant

Since 1995, Tupolev began promoting the further refined "Tu-300 Korshun", which resembles its predecessors but is fitted with a nose antenna dome and nose fairings for modern sensors and electronic systems. It also features a centerline pylon for a sensor pod or munitions. Financial issues forced a halt to development at the end of the 1990s, but work was resumed in 2007.

Operators

Current operators

 North Korea
Korean People's Air Force
 Russia
  • (in service as of 2016)[3][4].
 Syria
 Ukraine[5]

Former operators

 Bulgaria
retired
 Czech Republic
VR-3 Rejs, retired in 1995
 Czechoslovakia
VR-3 was in service from 1985, passed to Czech Republic and Slovakia
 Iraq
 Romania
(Retired from service)
 Slovakia
VR-3 Rejs, retired
 Soviet Union
Passed to Russia and Ukraine on dissolution of the USSR

Specifications

Tupolev TU-143 Reys:

  • wingspan 2.24 m (7 ft 4 in)
  • length 8.06 m (26 ft 5 in)
  • height 1.54 m (5 ft 1 in)
  • launch weight 1,230 kg (2,710 lb)
  • maximum speed 950 km/h (515 kn, 590 mph)
  • service ceiling 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
  • range 200 km (110 nmi, 125 mi)

References

This article contains material that originally came from the web article Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain.

  1. The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History, ABC-CLIO, 12 May 2008, by Spencer C. Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, page 1055
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20091024234355/http://www.arms-expo.ru/site.xp/049055055056124052052048048.html
  3. "Воздушные мишени – вторая жизнь зенитных ракет — ОРУЖИЕ РОССИИ, Информационное агентство". Arms-expo.ru. Archived from the original on 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2013-09-03.
  4. The Military Balance 2016, p. 190.
  5. UAV Forum | Users
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