Unmanned Air Vehicle Exposes Lack of Readiness

Unmanned Air Vehicle Exposes Lack of Readiness

Sometime after 11 PM yesterday, a loud crash was heard on Zagreb’s area of Jarun. Soon, a crater was discovered on the Jarun road, close to Student Home Stjepan Radić. Government released information that the cause was an unmanned aerial vehicle of Russian make, which arrived to Zagreb over Hungary.

Initial information indicated that the UAV is actually a Ukrainian aircraft of Soviet design, Tu-141. It had entered Croatian airspace from Hungary, flying at 700 kph and altitude of 1 300 m (or 500 knots and 4 000 ft, depending on the source). Before that, it had crossed a small strip of Ukrainian territory and then crossed Hungary in 40 minutes.

Only luck had prevented casualties. The UAV was not intercepted in any shape or form, although it was stated that it had been noticed and tracked by Croatian air defense.

UAV’s trip to Croatia may have been caused by a malfunction. UAV is almost certainly one of those used by Ukraine, which had been reactivating old Soviet UAV’s due to needs of war. Right now, Ukraine is the only known user of old Soviet Tu-141 UAV’s. These are less UAV’s and more of cruise missiles, as it is rocket-launched and flies along a predetermined course at transonic speeds. It collects intelligence, and recovers via parachute before being reset and used again. Another possibility is that it had been launched from Belarus to bait Ukrainian air defenses.

If this is true, then not just Croatian but also NATO air defense capability is showing massive holes. The UAV must have flown over Hungary at the very least, and in any case it undertook what would have been a 350 mile trip. The drone itself has a range of 650 miles.

Croatian air defense capability in particular consists of twelve Bofors L/70 40 mm anti-aircraft cannons, nine short-ranged Strijela-10CROA1 surface-to-air missiles and more than 200 MANPADS. All systems are short ranged, with Strijela able to engage targets at altitudes above 25 and below 3 000 meters. Air control relies on US-made FPS-117 radars with range of 450 kilometers.

Day later, Hungarian Air Force made an unsuccessful attempt at interception of another UAV.

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