Can a Ukrainian drone fly to Moscow? Explaining what attacks on Russian airfields mean

What kind of drone model was used is not officially reported.  But it is possible that these were the same Tu-141 Swift reconnaissance reactive targets.

What kind of drone model was used is not officially reported. But it is possible that these were the same Tu-141 Swift reconnaissance reactive targets.


Ukraine again hit a Russian strategic facility with a drone. As reported in the Russian defense department, the aircraft was shot down while approaching Engels airfield in the Saratov region. From its wreckage, three soldiers were killed.

The same thing happened on December 5 – then Kyiv also tried to hit the Diaghilevo airfield near Ryazan, and the same Engels. In both cases, drones were also shot down, but in Ryazan, as now in the Engels, three were killed by debris.

What kind of drone model was used is not officially reported. But it is possible that these were the same Tu-141 Swift reconnaissance reactive targets. These are still Soviet-made devices. How could they overcome air defense systems and fly hundreds of kilometers deep into Russian territory? How to protect yourself from attacks by these devices in the future? We talked about this with military experts.


“It was reconnaissance in force, an attempt to check what conclusions the Russian defense complex made after the first drone strike,” he said on air. radio “Komsomolskaya Pravda” military expert, head of the Center for the Study of Military Applied Problems Alexander Zhilin. – After all, this drone flew the same route as the first time. And this is 650 kilometers across the country.

“Apparently, they were walking at a very low altitude,” the military expert notes. Vasily Dandykin. – It must be remembered that the same Strizh crashed in March, having used up fuel, in Croatia, and the vaunted NATO air defense did not detect it either. We now have the main air defense forces now covering our units located at the front. But what happened showed the air defense systems should be placed at different lines. And it should be not only “Shells” and “Tors”, but also such systems as “Buk”. During the exercises, our air defense destroyed such targets quite calmly.


The fact that the Soviet Strizh rocket targets in Ukraine have undergone modernization is also believed by the KP.RU military expert, Colonel Viktor Baranets. At the same time, in his opinion, this modernization could not have taken place without the participation of Western intelligence services, otherwise the Swifts would not have been able to overcome such distances.

– Look, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine got a large number of Strizh rocket targets (about 100 pieces in warehouses). They were able to fly at most 300 kilometers. They were launched over the range to shoot down during the exercises, – says Viktor Nikolayevich.

If the German woman was not hit, the self-liquidator turned on. But how did you manage to adapt the Swifts to today’s hostilities?

– You need honor three factors, – says our military observer. – Firstly, the school of aircraft designers has been preserved in Ukraine (there is a whole bureau of Antonov). Secondly, they have the Motor Sich enterprise, which is capable of supplying these targets with more powerful engines. And thirdly, the British and Americans taught the Ukrainians to install a new electronic filling in these Swifts, which allows them to fly under GPS control.

Such technologies have been around for a long time. Our “Caliber” operate in exactly the same way: detailed maps with the terrain are laid in them, and they fly to the target, as if to their home.

“If earlier Ukraine could launch missiles at 100-150 kilometers, then with the help of these British and American technologies they were able to launch missiles at a thousand kilometers,” states Baranets. – Remember, in March, the same “Strizh” collapsed in the Zagreb area?

Can Ukrainian Swifts fly to Moscow?

– With the technologies that the West has supplied to Ukraine, maybe, – says Viktor Baranets. – But! Both Moscow and the so-called Central Industrial Region are quite tightly closed by air defense and missile defense systems.


The length of the “Swift” – 14 m, weight – 5.4 tons. These jet targets made their first flight in 1974. They were intended for reconnaissance at a distance of several hundred kilometers. The Swift was equipped with photo and infrared cameras and flew along a predetermined route. Data transmission by radio was not supposed – after landing, the film had to be picked up and developed.

In 1979-1989, 152 such devices were produced at the Kharkov Aviation Plant. In 2012, the Tu-141 was withdrawn from service, but in 2014 it was returned to the troops. The Armed Forces of Ukraine used it for reconnaissance over the territory of the DPR and LPR. At the same time, it was decided to modernize them – to install a modern control and navigation system. Now the use of the Tu-141 as a photo reconnaissance is no longer relevant, therefore it is used to open the air defense system, and also as a projectile.

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