The Russian unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) program revealed as long ago as 2007 might have reached the flight-test phase. The evidence comes from a near midair over Arkhangelskoye on Feb. 17, reported by the pilots of two L-29 jet trainers belonging to a civilian flying club based at the Barataevka airfield near Ulyanovsk.
The L-29 pilots rapidly altered heading and altitude to escape collision with an unidentified flying object that they described as “a heavyweight unmanned air vehicle.” The object was also detected by ATC radar, flying at 270 knots and nearly 7,000 feet. Approaching the L-29s from the rear, it might have flown into them if not for the controller warning the pilots. The object proceeded in the direction of Penza and disappeared from the radar screen.
The pilots’ description indicates it was a jet-powered UCAV with swept wings. In theory, it might be an old Tupolev Tu-143 Reis reconnaissance UAV or a newer Tu-300 Korshun experimental UAV made during 1990s. But local media reported that the mysterious object bore greater similarity to the Mikoyan Skat.
For the complete story by Vladimir Karnozov of AINonline, click here.