Croatia confirms crashed drone came from Ukraine
The military drone that crashed overnight in the Croatian capital of Zagreb apparently came from Ukraine, President Zoran Milanovic said on Friday, after chairing a meeting of the National Security Council.
The six-ton aircraft traveled through the airspace of Romania and Hungary before reaching Croatia, Milanovic claimed, citing reports he received during the meeting. It flew through Hungarian airspace for about 40 minutes.
The six-ton aircraft traveled at the speed of almost 1000 km (621 miles) per hour and spent seven minutes over Croatia, before apparently running out of fuel and crashing, the president said.
Milanovic called the incident very serious, but stressed that it didn’t appear to be some sort of attack against his country. He expressed relief over the fact that nobody was hurt by the crash and called on Croatians to maintain calm.
The president wondered how a relatively unsophisticated drone could spend an hour in NATO airspace without being intercepted, despite being detected by radar stations. The incident showed that the country needs to better develop its defenses, he stated.
When asked by journalists whether Zagreb would complain to Ukraine if the origin of the drone was confirmed to be Ukrainian, Milanovic said Kiev had its hands full fighting off the Russian attack.
“I just hope it doesn't happen again,” he said.
Croatian Defense Minister Mario Banozic held a press-conference, during which he said the Croatian military didn’t fail in the incident since the aircraft posed no threat to the country.
Admiral Robert Hranj, the Chief of the General Staff of Croatia, who spoke alongside the minister, confirmed that Zagreb didn’t scramble fighter jets in response to the drone’s violation of Croatian airspace, claiming that the military didn’t have enough time to do so.
The aircraft that crashed in Zagreb’s Jarun neighborhood on Thursday night is widely presumed to have been a Soviet-designed Tu-141 Strizh reconnaissance drone. Hranj declined to assign ownership of the unmanned plane, stating that this type of aircraft was “relatively old-fashioned and widespread in the Soviet Union since the last century.”
A Tu-141 weighs about six tons, has a speed of around 1,000 km (621 miles) per hour and a range of 1,000 km. It lands with the help of a tail-mounted parachute system. Croatian police discovered parachutes in the area of the crash.
Ukraine is the only nation that officially operates Tu-141s at the moment.