Russian state media outlet TASS has reported that a Ukrainian Tu-141 “Strizh” drone purportedly packed with explosives struck the center of the town of Kireyevsk, Tula region, wounding three civilians and damaging several buildings. The impact site is over 300 km from Ukraine. The intended target remains unknown.
??Un dron ucraniano Tu-141 Strizh, lleno de explosivos, se estrelló en Kireevsk, en la región rusa de Tula, informaron las fuerzas de seguridad de la región.
Tres personas resultaron heridas. pic.twitter.com/c8XVXHl0UM
— #TimeToMoveToRussia ??ZOV y del 38% #KylieLOVER (@Darwin_f1978) March 26, 2023
Footage posted online of the aftermath of the strike can be geolocated to Kireyevsk, confirming the videos’ location. In one video, locals can be seen holding shrapnel (53.9330661, 37.9310552).
In another video, the crater from the impact can be seen surrounded by damaged homes (53.9327824, 37.9312909).
The Tu-141, like the Tu-142 and Tu-143, is a Soviet-era JATO turbojet reconnaissance drone that was introduced in the mid 1970s and designed for low level ISR missions. The drones saw most of their action in the 1980s with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Syrian involvement in the First Lebanon War. Now, the system has long been phased out in Russia and their remaining stock are used as training targets. Ukraine, however, continues to use the drones as bait to draw out Russian anti-aircraft systems and expose their positions, as well as pack them with explosives for kinetic strikes.
On December 5, 2022, Ukrainian Tu-series drones packed with explosives were used to target the Engels-2 and Dyagilevo military air bases, both of which are located hundreds of kilometers away from the border with Ukraine. Tu-series’ capabilities are long outdated with that of newer unmanned systems of today, but they were somehow able to fly through hundreds of kilometers of Russian airspace undetected until they were near their targets. As I have previously reported, these drones can pose a major threat to Russian military targets and infrastructure far from the frontlines and border with Ukraine.