|Role||unmanned reconnaissance aircraft|
|First flight||1970 |
|Introduction||1976 (Army i.e. Ground Forces, SSV) |
1982 (Air Force, VVS)
|Primary user||Soviet Union|
|Produced||1973–1989 (Tu-243 1994-)|
|Developed from||Tupolev Tu-141|
The Tupolev Tu-143 Reys (Flight or Trip, Russian: Рейс; also Reis, Rejs) 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 retrieved.
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, 1300 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.
During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine appeared to use them to spot Russian air defences and as an ersatz cruise missile.  On 29 June 2022, one Tu-143 carrying explosives was shot down in Kursk Oblast. 
A target drone version, the M-143, was introduced in the mid-1980s.
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.
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.
- Republic of Belarus
- People's Republic of Bulgaria / Bulgaria
- Czech Republic
- VR-3 Rejs, retired in 1995
- VR-3 was in service from 1985, passed to Czech Republic and Slovakia
- Ba'athist Iraq / Republic of Iraq / Iraq
- Socialist Republic of Romania / Romania
- VR-3 in service from 1987 until the early 2000s
- VR-3 Rejs, retired
- Soviet Union
- Passed to Russia and Ukraine on dissolution of the USSR
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)
- engine Klimov turbojet TR3-117
- service ceiling 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
- range 200 km (110 nmi, 125 mi)
This article contains material that originally came from the web article Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Greg Goebel, which exists in the Public Domain.
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- Czech Tu-143/VR-3 Rejs in museum with transport vehicle and launcher