Drone That Landed in Croatia Was Redesigned to Carry Weapons, Croatian Prime Minister Says

© AFP 2023 / EMMANUEL DUNANDCroatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic
Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.03.2022
BELGRADE (Sputnik) - An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that crashed in the Croatian capital of Zagreb last week was a reconnaissance drone modified to carry an aerial bomb, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday.
The Soviet-made drone flew from Ukraine last week before running out of fuel and crashing on the outskirts of the Croatian capital, causing a loud blast and creating a crater. No one was hurt. The Croatian defence minister said that traces of explosives and aerial bomb parts were found at the site, indicating it was not a reconnaissance aircraft. Croatian public media later reported that the bomb it carried weighted 120 kilograms (265 pounds). It left a crater at the site and would have caused massive destruction had it not fallen into soft soil, a source in the Defence Ministry told HRT.

"The flying vehicle was armed, there was an explosion, we are most certain that it was an aerial bomb, details will be made public when the whole process is completed. It is of utmost importance that we do know about this, detonators and shards have been found, it has been unequivocally proven that in this case a drone designed for reconnaissance was modified to carry weapons," Plenkovic told a briefing after a meeting with the leadership of Croatian law enforcement agencies.

Plenkovic added that the UAV was detected by Romanian, Hungarian and Croatian radars while flying to Zagreb, but the signal was weak, therefore the drone was not perceived as a threat.

"Currently, we are well aware of the point at which the drone appeared on Romanian radars. Romanian radars cover Ukrainian territory the deepest. However, it does not mean that the drone was launched from where it was detected. That is why I said that we are possibly talking about a mistake, sabotage or an intention. There is no answer yet," Plenkovic said.

On Saturday, Plenkovic said at the scene that the downing of the UAV in Zagreb was a clear threat to all NATO member countries. He urged the European authorities and NATO to strengthen cooperation to increase preparedness for this sort of incident in the future.

Plenkovic also wants Croatia to procure short-range air defence systems from 2023-2025. Zagreb had already secured 12 French Rafaele jets worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.32 billion).
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