Mystery drone that crashed into Zagreb carried 120-kg. bomb - defense sources

The bomb exploded underground due to hitting the ground, but landing on asphalt or concrete would have been disastrous. * Another drone was spotted in Romania.

 A view of a drone crash site, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Zagreb, Croatia, March 11, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/ANTONIO BRONIC)
A view of a drone crash site, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Zagreb, Croatia, March 11, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ANTONIO BRONIC)

A Soviet-era drone that crashed near Croatia's capital city Zagreb last Thursday was not a scout drone as previously thought, with explosive traces and bomb parts found in the crater where it crashed, Croatian Defense Minister Mario Banozic said, according to Croatian media.

The bomb it was carrying weighed around 120 kilograms. Luckily, the drone had a relatively soft landing when it crashed into the bare ground, meaning it exploded underground, according to Croatian state broadcaster HRT, citing the Croatian Defense Ministry. 

If it had hit concrete or asphalt, the situation would have been much worse.

The six-ton drone, flying at 1,300 meters, came from Hungary and crashed seven minutes after entering Croatia's air space, the government said last Friday. Both Hungary and Croatia are NATO members.

At the time, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said that according to preliminary information, the drone originally came from Ukraine and crashed once it had run out of fuel.

 The flag of Croatia (illustrative). (credit: PIXABAY) The flag of Croatia (illustrative). (credit: PIXABAY)

It is unclear where the drone itself came from, why it was flying towards Croatia and who it belonged to.

Russia or Ukraine denied launching the drone, according to the Associated Press.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was in communication with both representatives from the European Union and NATO regarding the incident and an investigation is ongoing.

However, he and other Croatian officials have been critical of NATO and the EU for reacting slowly, as the drone had flown over several other member states for an hour or longer, as noted by AP.

"This was a pure and clear threat, and both NATO and the EU should have reacted," Plenković said, according to AP.

This hasn't been the only drone crash in the region.

Another drone was spotted in Romania. It has since been identified as an Orlan-10, which is used for a number of purposes such as intelligence gathering, directing artillery shelling and airstrikes and electronic warfare, as reported by Euronews.

While the drone lacked any markings and its origin, operator and purpose in Romanian airspace remain unknown, Russia is the only known operator of Orlan-10 drones, and Romanian prosecutors have now launched a criminal investigation, according to Euronews.

Reuters contributed to this report.