Tu-141 “Strizh” Missile-Like Drone From The War In Ukraine Looks To Have Crashed In Croatia

In what can only be deemed a totally bizarre event, Croatia’s capital of Zagreb was awakened to a loud blast just hours ago only to find a large crater filled with what appeared to be aircraft parts. Some said it was a plane that crashed and that parachutes were seen nearby, others said it was a missile. After close examination of the visual evidence, The War Zone strongly believes this was actually a Tu-141 “Strizh” reconnaissance drone that must have severely malfunctioned and crossed over the entirety of Hungary or parts of neighboring countries and into Croatia from Ukraine. Flying direct from Ukraine’s border to Zagreb is nearly a 350-mile journey. It has been reported that Ukraine has been putting the high-speed, Soviet-era drones to work in recent days following Russia’s invasion of the country. Ukraine is the only known current operator of the Tu-141.

We were first alerted to the mysterious crash by @Darkstar_OSINT who quickly briefed us on the strange situation and the claims surrounding it. Upon inspecting the wreckage and considering the odd and somewhat conflicting reports, as well as the biggest news story of the year occurring in the region, we concluded only one aircraft really fit the bill—the Tu-141. 

It just so happens one of the wings was left largely intact, allowing us to verify our hunch. Still, the fact that this drone flew so far off course is both puzzling and alarming. But it would not be the first loss of the Tu-141 of the war. Another went down in Ukraine just days ago.

The Tu-141 is a fascinating piece of Soviet-era hardware that Ukraine has upgraded and made useful following the invasion of Crimea in 2014. More of a cruise missile than a traditional drone, the aircraft is rocket-launched from its trailer and flies a predetermined course at transonic speed, collecting various forms of intelligence, before recovering via parachute. It can then be reset and used again. 

The Tu-141’s roots go back to its predecessor, the Tu-123, which first flew in 1960, but the Strizh is far from youthful, having first been introduced into service by the Soviet Union in the late 1970s. With a range of about 650 miles, the Tu-141 can take on some of the missions that a manned tactical reconnaissance jet can, but without the risk of losing the crew. Ukraine has also used the type as a target drone recently and it could also act as a decoy during combat, although this particular Tu-141 was heading in completely the wrong direction for such a mission.

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