Military Factory logo
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of navy warships

Tupolev Tu-123 (Yastreb) / (DBR-1)

SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT) Disposable Reconnaissance Drone

Tupolev Tu-123 (Yastreb) / (DBR-1)

SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT) Disposable Reconnaissance Drone

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



Over fifty of the Tupolev Tu-123 Yastreb reconnaissance drones were produced for the Soviet Union from the mid-1960s into the early-1970s.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Soviet Union
YEAR: 1964
MANUFACTURER(S): Tupolev OKB - Soviet Union
PRODUCTION: 52
OPERATORS: Soviet Union (retired)
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Tupolev Tu-123 (Yastreb) / (DBR-1) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 0
LENGTH: 91.37 feet (27.85 meters)
WIDTH: 27.59 feet (8.41 meters)
HEIGHT: 15.58 feet (4.75 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 25,243 pounds (11,450 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 78,507 pounds (35,610 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Tumansky KR-15 turbojet engine developing 22,045lb of thrust (JATO-assisted take-off).
SPEED (MAX): 1,678 miles-per-hour (2700 kilometers-per-hour; 1,458 knots)
RANGE: 1,988 miles (3,200 kilometers; 1,728 nautical miles)
CEILING: 74,803 feet (22,800 meters; 14.17 miles)




ARMAMENT



None. Mission payload consisting of SIGnals INTelligence and camera equipment recovered by parachute.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• Tu-123 "Yastreb" - Base Series Name
• Tu-139 "Yastreb 2" - Proposed reusable drone system; not adopted.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Tupolev Tu-123 (Yastreb) / (DBR-1) SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT) Disposable Reconnaissance Drone.  Entry last updated on 11/22/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Ever since Austria sent aloft bomb-filled balloons against Venice targets in 1849, the prospect of unmanned aircraft in war has been on the minds of warplanners. The field advanced some into the early-to-mid-1900s when drones were developed to assist with gunnery and missile training. Today, they have become lethal munitions-delivery systems capable of precision strikes with some able to loiter for days on end.

During the Cold War-era (1947-1991), the Soviet Union and the United States consistently volleyed for global military supremacy. This also included the field of unmanned aircraft and both sides invested heavily in development of advanced, unmanned high-speed reconnaissance systems. The Tupolev design bureau of the Soviet Union generated an off-shoot of the abandoned Tu-121 supersonic, nuclear-capable cruise missile as the "Tu-123". The design was based around the Tumansky R-15 series afterburning turbojet engine, the same used to power (in a paired arrangement) the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 "Foxbat" high-speed interceptor (detailed elsewhere on this site). The engine proved an excellent propulsion system to base an entire, missile-like aerodynamic structure around so a the base design of the Tu-123 incorporated a nose cone, forward canards and aft-wing elements fitted to the largely-cylindrical shape. An air scoop was added along the ventral line of the shape to aspirate the sole engine installation which exhausted through a large port at the rear of the aircraft.

The result was the unmanned disposable Tu-123 "Yastreb" (or "Falcon") whose developmental designation was "DBR-1". A first-flight was recorded in 1960 and initial testing wrapped before the end of 1961. Formal testing spanned into 1963 and formal service introduction followed in May of 1964. Factory No. 64 of Voronezh was charged with serial production of the drone which amounted to fifty-two total aircraft.

Internally, the reconnaissance-minded Tu-123 carried SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT) and camera equipment to spy on the allied forces of Europe. The drone was able to power itself through the R-15 engine fit but relied on JATO (Jet-Assisted Take-Off) assistance for take-off. There was no recovery of the air unit itself for the payload was jettisoned (and landed by way of deployable parachute) and the entire airframe lost in the mission.

As completed, the Tu-123 exhibited a length of 27.8 meters, a wingspan of 8.4 meters and a height of 4.7 meters. Empty weight was 11,450 kilograms against a MTOW of 35,610 kg and the Tumansky R-15 engine produced 22,045lb of thrust - propelling the aircraft to speeds of 1,675 miles per hour out to ranges of 2,000 miles. It held a service ceiling of nearly 75,000 feet.

In the end, the Tu-123 - as a disposable aircraft product - proved economically unfeasible to sustain in long-term service so this inevitably limited production (spanning 1964 until 1972) and service use lasted just until 1979. An attempt at a reusable version, the Tu-139 "Yastreb 2", was seen but this design was not adopted. Instead the role of the high-flying, high-speed Tu-123 was eventually overtaken by a reconnaissance-minded version of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25. Thus ended the flying days of the Tu-123 drone.




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1700mph
Lo: 850mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (1,678mph).

    Graph average of 1275 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Tupolev Tu-123 (Yastreb)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
52
52

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.