2022 Zagreb Tu-141 crash

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Zagreb Tu-141 crash
M-141 Cruise Missile.JPG
Tu-141 Strizh at Central Air Force Museum, Monino, Russia, similar to one that crashed in Zagreb
Accident
Date10 March 2022
SummaryFlew over Hungary and Romania before running out of fuel; crashed near a major student dormitory in Zagreb, Croatia
Site Zagreb, Croatia
45°47′4″N15°57′0″E / 45.78444°N 15.95000°E / 45.78444; 15.95000
Aircraft
Aircraft type Tupolev Tu-141
OperatorProclaimed state secret by Croatian, Hungarian and Romanian governments. [1]
Flight originSomewhere in Ukraine
(suspected) [2]
DestinationUnknown
Occupants0

On 10 March 2022 at 23:01 CET, an unidentified Soviet-made Tupolev Tu-141 reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. With an unidentified operator and unknown destination, the origin of the drone is presumed to be connected to military actions during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The drone's flight over Croatia, Hungary and Romania (all three being NATO states) prompted criticism of the countries' defense systems as the UAV was detected but not cleared. In response, the Croatian government restricted airspace over populous cities and received military support from France and the United States who dispatched multiple fighter-jets to Croatia days later for joint exercises. [3] [4]

Contents

Background

The Tupolev Tu-141 is a Soviet-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) made in the late 1970s. [5] It weighs almost six tons and is launched off a truck where its flight path is also programmed. [6] Multiple analysts[ who? ] contend that after its launch, the Tu-141 behaves more like a modern cruise missile than a traditional UAV. [1] When its flight is completed, the aircraft descends to the ground using parachutes so it can be reused. [6] The range of the aircraft is 1,000 km (620 mi, 540 nmi). [7]

Flight and crash

The unmanned aerial vehicle entered Romanian airspace around 23:23 EET, where it was observed by the Romanian Air Force and flew for 3 minutes. [8] Afterwards, it continued flying through Hungarian airspace for the next 40 minutes at about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) altitude, where it was also observed by the Hungarian Air Force. [9] [10] It then entered Croatian airspace flying at a speed of 700 km/h (380 kn; 430 mph) and altitude of 1,300 metres (4,300 ft), [11] where it was picked up by Croatian military radar. [12] After spending seven minutes in Croatian airspace, it crashed in the Jarun neighborhood of the capital, some 50 m (160 ft) away from the Stjepan Radić Student Residence Hall of Zagreb University. The impact damaged 96 cars parked nearby [10] and woke up students residing in the university dormitory. [13] [14] [15]

The Seismological Service of Croatia recorded seismic waves at the time of the UAV's impact with an epicenter very close to the actual crash site. [16] [17]

Investigation

Croatian civil and military police quickly sealed off the crash perimeter. The next morning, American analyst Tyler Rogoway identified the aircraft to most likely be a Soviet era Tupolev Tu-141, [18] which was corroborated by Cyrillic inscriptions and red star insignia found on the scattered debris near the crash site. There were also several parachutes hanging on the nearby trees. [19] Throughout 12 March, Croatian Army continued the excavation of a remaining major part of the debris, which was wedged into the ground. [20] The debris was taken to a secret location. [21] On the same day, the head of the military police of Croatian Army Chief of Staff brigadier Vlado Kovačević said that the aircraft's black box was recovered and that some fragments point to the possibility that the aircraft was also carrying an explosive device. [22]

In an interview on 13 March, the Croatian Minister of Defence Mario Banožić confirmed that parts belonging to an explosive device were found in the debris of the drone. [23] He also added that the weight of the explosive could have been up to 120 kg. [24] [14]

Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković remarked to the media on 17 March that the UAV flew to Croatia because Romanian and Hungarian radars did not identify the incoming object as a real threat, due to the fact that there were several false alarms in the days before the incident and it was thought that it was a glitch. Given the fact that neither Romanian or Hungarian radars reported the object, NATO in turn could not order the interception of the UAV. [25]

On 23 March, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović confirmed that the UAV carried an aerial bomb. [26]

The investigation report was presented on 13 April. A detailed analysis of its metal fragments showed that the drone carried an OFAB-100-120 aerial bomb and had hit the ground because of parachute failure. However, no traces of military explosives, such as Trinitrotoluene (TNT), were found on it. The bomb was charged by unconventional organic powder. [10] [27] On 1 December 2022, while answering questions in parliament, defense minister Banožić revealed that NATO member states whose territories were overflown by the drone had proclaimed the drone operator a state secret. [28]

Reactions

Domestic

The slow or non-existent reaction from air defence services caused outrage among the Croatian media and public, [29] [30] with some comparing the incident to Mathias Rust's flight to the Red Square in 1987. [31]

President of Croatia Zoran Milanović described the crash as "a serious incident" and added that "in such situations you depend on NATO [...] while there was obviously some failure there". The President said Croatia knew where the drone flew from, "evidently Ukraine to Zagreb". [32] [33]

Prime Minister Plenković said on 12 March that "[t]his is a real threat. NATO and the EU were supposed to react. We will not tolerate such [a] situation [...] we were very lucky. This could have fallen on a nuclear power plant in Hungary." He also announced that he had written a letter to the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg regarding the situation. [34]

The Mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević, held a press conference regarding the incident and commented that "no people were hurt during the impact, but there is some property damage". [35] On 12 March 2022, Tomašević criticized certain unnamed foreign media sources for allegedly misrepresenting the location of the crash site. He stated: "I must admit that I am quite bothered by the information in foreign media sources, where I have read that such a large military aircraft had crashed in the suburbs of Zagreb, or that it had crashed next to Zagreb. No, it did not crash next to Zagreb, it crashed in the centre of Zagreb, in a densely populated area, and it did not crash in any type of suburban area." [36] [37] [38]

The Croatian online newspaper Index.hr suggested the drone may have been meant to fly to a location in Ukraine called Yarun'  [ uk; de; pl ] rather than the Zagreb neighborhood of Jarun, which sounds similar. [39] [40]

Distinguished Croatian Air Force pilot Ivan Selak criticized NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre in Torrejón, Spain, for not scrambling Romanian, Hungarian or Croatian Air Force jets to intercept the aircraft. [41]

On 12 March, the Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list wrote that Croatia might ask the United States to deploy their Patriot missile systems in the country. [42] Croatian military expert and former defence minister deputy Nikola Brzica commented, "Armed Forces of Croatia have at least two systems in their inventory, which could have brought down such a simple target, yet they weren't used. [...] It turns out that neither us [Croatians], nor Hungarians, nor Romanians properly tracked that target, nor contacted others and this is a big problem for NATO's air defence". [43]

Foreign

Ukrainian Defence Minister's adviser Markiyan Lubkivsky, in a statement to Croatian media, denied that the UAV which crashed in Zagreb belongs to Ukraine. [44] In subsequent reaction to the writing of Russian news agency TASS, State Special Communications Service of Ukraine also further claimed that the UAVs in question are in possession of both Russian and Ukrainian Armed Forces. However, according to Ukrainian officials, the Ukrainian variants of Tu-141 UAVs are marked by the Ukrainian coat of arms while Russian variants have the red star insignia. [45]

The Russian Embassy in Zagreb also denied ownership of the crashed drone, stating that "the drone was produced on the territory of Ukraine" and that Russian Armed Forces had not used such drones since 1991. [46] [47]

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced that the Hungarian government had joined the investigation into the UAV. [48]

The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg claimed that the drone that crashed in Croatia was unarmed and the crash did not constitute an armed attack. [49]

Aftermath

A joint exercise between the Croatian Air Force and French pilots from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was held on 15 March 2022. The exercise was conducted in the airspace over the regions of Istria, Kvarner, Lika, and Kordun, as well as over the cities of Rijeka, Pula, Zadar, and Zagreb. [4] Later that day, Croatian president and commander-in-chief Zoran Milanović published a statement announcing that he had given an order to the Chief of the General Staff Admiral Robert Hranj whereby overflights of military aircraft over Zagreb and the country's other cities would be "strictly forbidden". [50] [51] On 16 March 2022, the United States dispatched two F-16 fighter jets from Italy to a Croatian airbase in Pleso. [3]

On 17 March 2022, Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov continued to insist that Ukrainians were "not the ones who launched that drone towards Croatia"; he also expressed incomprehension of NATO's apparent failure to prevent the incident, saying: "The drone flew over several member states. How come you didn't see it? Why didn't you destroy it? Can you cover your own airspace?". [52]

As a result of the drone crash, the Croatian government decided to urgently acquire surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. [53] According to Croatian media reports, French-made MISTRAL and VL MICA Systems were acquired by the country. [54] [55] [56]

Other incidents

Suspicious flying objects over Hungary

The Hungarian Air Force first detected and tracked the aircraft after it had passed through Romanian airspace late in the evening of March 10th. The next day, the Air Force further detected another suspicious radar signal around noon. Hungarian Gripen fighters took off from Kecskemét air base but found no suspicious flying object. Another incident occurred during the afternoon later that day prompting fighters to be scrambled but they likewise did not find any suspicious flying objects. [57]

Drone crash in Romania

On 13 March, just three days after the event in Zagreb, a drone crashed in the Tărpiu village close to the Transylvanian city of Bistrița in Romania. Unlike the UAV that crashed in Croatia, this one carried no armament. It was identified as a Russian Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone. [58] [59] [60] Like Croatia, Romania is also a NATO member and as such is under its security umbrella. [61]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 "Ministar Banožić: Znamo tko je ispalio dron koji je pao na Zagreb" [Banožić: We know who fired a drone which crashed on Zagreb]. Jutarnji list (in Croatian). Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  2. "Plenković o padu drona u Zagrebu: Lansiran je iz Ukrajine, ali ne znamo čiji je. Ovakvu situaciju ne možemo tolerirati. Ovo je bila prijetnja na koju treba reagirati" [Plenković on the drone crash in Zagreb: It was launched from Ukraine, but we don't know whose it is. We cannot tolerate this situation. This was a threat that needed to be responded to]. Večernji list (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  3. 1 2 "United States Air Force F-16s from Italy support NATO's collective defence in Croatia". ac.nato.int. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
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  6. 1 2 "Je li dron promašio koordinate i pao u pogrešan Jarun, stručnjak otkriva jesu li ga slali u Yarun kod Žitomira" [Did the drone miss the coordinates and fall into the wrong Jarun, the expert reveals whether he was sent to Yarun near Žitomir]. www.vecernji.hr (in Croatian). Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  7. Munson Air International August 1997, p. 101.
  8. "Rumunji objasnili zbog čega nisu srušili dron: 'Velika brzina, mala visina, vremenski uvjeti...'" [The Romanians explained why they did not shoot down the drone: 'High speed, low altitude, weather conditions...]. tportal.hr. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  9. "Mađari o dronu koji je pao u Zagrebu: Pratili smo ga dok nije napustio naš prostor" [Hungarians about the drone that fell in Zagreb: We followed it until it left our area]. www.index.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  10. 1 2 3 "Soviet-era drone that crashed in Croatia carried aerial bomb, experts say". Reuters. 13 April 2022. Archived from the original on 14 April 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  11. Telegram.hr. "Vlada se konačno oglasila: dron je stigao preko Mađarske, letio je 700 km/h, na visini od 1300 m" [The government finally announced: the drone arrived via Hungary, flying at 700 km/h, at a height of 1300 m]. Telegram.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  12. "Uočili smo letjelicu čim je ušla u Hrvatsku, nadležni saznali tek nakon pada: "To je ozbiljan incident"" [We spotted the aircraft as soon as it entered Croatia, the authorities found out only after the crash: "It's a serious incident"]. Dnevnik.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  13. "Jutarnji list - 'Strašno je smrdjelo, čovjeku je pozlilo'; 'Načuo sam razgovor policajaca, evo što su rekli...'" [Jutarnji list - 'It smelled terrible, the man got sick'; "I overheard the policemen's conversation, here's what they said..."]. www.jutarnji.hr (in Croatian). 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  14. 1 2 "Official: Drone that crashed in Croatia carried a bomb". Associated Press . 13 March 2022. Archived from the original on 18 March 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  15. "Soviet-era drone, believed from Ukraine, crashes in Croatia, Zagreb says". reuters.com. 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  16. "Seizmološka služba: Zabilježili smo pad letjelice u Zagrebu" [Seismological service: We recorded the fall of the aircraft in Zagreb]. index.hr. Archived from the original on 17 March 2022. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  17. "Preliminarna analiza seizmoloških zapisa na kojima je registriran pad letjelice dana 10.3.2022" [Preliminary analysis of seismological records on which the fall of the aircraft was registered on 10.3.2022.]. pmf.unizg.hr. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  18. Rogoway, Tyler (10 March 2022). "Tu-141 "Strizh" Missile-Like Drone From The War In Ukraine Looks To Have Crashed In Croatia (Updated)". The Drive. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  19. "Jutarnji list - Pogledajte kako izgleda područje na koje su padali dijelovi letjelice, padobran visi sa stabla" [Jutarnji list - Look at the area where parts of the aircraft fell, the parachute hanging from the tree]. www.jutarnji.hr (in Croatian). 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  20. "Plenković o padu drona u Zagrebu: Lansiran je iz Ukrajine, ali ne znamo čiji je. Ovakvu situaciju ne možemo tolerirati. Ovo je bila prijetnja na koju treba reagirati" [Plenković on the drone crash in Zagreb: It was launched from Ukraine, but we don't know whose it is. We cannot tolerate this situation. This was a threat that needed to be responded to]. tportal.hr. Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  21. "Prvi rezultati istrage srušenog drona: Ipak greška u navigaciji? Banožić: 'U subotu ćemo rutu..." [The first results of the investigation of the downed drone: Still a navigation error? Banožić: 'On Saturday we will route...]. Net.hr (in Croatian). 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  22. "Pronađena crna kutija. Brigadir: Pretpostavljamo da je letjelica nosila bombu" [Black box found. Brigadier: We assume the craft was carrying a bomb]. www.index.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  23. "Banožić: Na letjelici smo našli dijelove aviobombe" [Banožić: We found parts of an aerial bomb on the aircraft]. HRT Vijesti. 13 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  24. "Visoki izvor iz MORH-a: Bomba u letjelici težine do 120 kg, eksplodirala ispod zemlje" [A high source from the Ministry of Defense: A bomb in an aircraft weighing up to 120 kg, exploded underground]. HRT Vijesti. 13 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  25. "Plenković: Postoje tri scenarija o padu letjelice" [Plenković: There are three scenarios about the fall of the aircraft]. www.index.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  26. "Božinović: Dron je imao bombu, ali samo DORH može objaviti informacije o njemu" [Božinović: The drone had a bomb, but only the DORH can publish information about it]. index.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 25 March 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
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  29. Telegram.hr. "Skandalozna reakcija NATO saveza na pad drona u Zagrebu: 'Pratili smo putanju objekta'" [The scandalous reaction of the NATO alliance to the fall of the drone in Zagreb: 'We followed the trajectory of the object']. Telegram.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  30. "Pad drona u Zagrebu velika blamaža NATO-a: "Ako vam se to dogodi u ratu nemate pojma što radite"" [The crash of a drone in Zagreb is a great shame for NATO: "If this happens to you in war, you have no idea what you are doing"]. Novi list. 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  31. "Slobodna Dalmacija - Blamaža NATO-a, ali i naših Oružanih snaga, ravna je slijetanju Mathiasa Rusta na Crveni trg! A što bi tek bilo da nam je doletio moćni ruski Kalibr?!" [Slobodna Dalmacija - The embarrassment of NATO, but also of our Armed Forces, is equal to the landing of Mathias Rust on Red Square! And what would have happened if the powerful Russian Kalibr flew to us?!]. slobodnadalmacija.hr (in Croatian). 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  32. "VIDEO Milanović: Letjelica je došla iz Ukrajine, ima šest tona. Ozbiljan incident" [VIDEO Milanović: The aircraft came from Ukraine, it has six tons. Serious incident]. www.index.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
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  34. "VIDEO Plenković: Ovo je čista prijetnja. NATO nije reagirao, nećemo to tolerirati" [VIDEO Plenković: This is a pure threat. NATO did not react, we will not tolerate it]. www.index.hr (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  35. "Tomašević: Ovo je događaj bez presedana, tako nešto se nikad nije dogodilo u Zagrebu" [Tomašević: This is an unprecedented event, something like this has never happened in Zagreb]. Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  36. "VIDEO Tomašević o letjelici: Jako mi smeta ono što vidim u stranim medijima" [VIDEO Tomašević about the aircraft: What I see in foreign media really bothers me]. www.index.hr. Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  37. "Tomašević oštro kritizirao strane medije zbog izvještavanja o padu letjelice" [Tomašević harshly criticized the foreign media for reporting on the crash of the aircraft]. N1. 12 March 2022. Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  38. "Tomašević komentirao pad drona: 'Očekujem odgovore NATO-a. Ali, smetaju me napisi nekih medija...'" [Tomašević commented on the drone crash: 'I am waiting for NATO's answers. But the writings of some media bother me...']. Net.hr. 12 March 2022. Archived from the original on 12 March 2022. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  39. "Mystery drone from Ukraine war crashes in Croatia". BBC News. 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 23 March 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  40. "Sve više se spominje možda najluđa teorija o padu drona: Je li netko upisao pogrešan Jarun?" [Perhaps the craziest theory about the drone crash is being mentioned more and more: Did someone write the wrong Jarun?]. jutarnji.hr. 11 March 2022. Archived from the original on 13 March 2022. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
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