The Hungarian authorities are joining an investigation into the case of a drone that crashed in Zagreb, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Friday. Hungarian air defence detected and tracked the drone that crossed its airspace on Thursday night before it crashed in Zagreb, the defence ministry has said.
The aircraft was likely a Soviet-era TU-141 reconnaissance drone that crashed in the Croatian capital just after midnight on Thursday, local news portal Index.hr said citing unnamed experts. Szijjártó said on Facebook that he had talked with Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlic Radman about the case by phone. According to data currently available, the airspace of several NATO member states, including Hungary’s, have been affected in the flight path of the drone, he said.
“During the assessment, we will closely cooperate with the Croatian authorities and other NATO allies,”
The air defence service of the Hungarian Armed Forces detected a flying object on its radars on Thursday night, the ministry said in a statement. The object was later identified as a TU-141 drone which has recently been used as a training target, the ministry said, adding that both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries had used such drones.
The drone had already been detected in Ukraine’s airspace, the ministry said. Once it entered Hungarian airspace it was tracked by the air defence service until it exited the airspace, they added.
The ministry said a similar incident had occurred again around noon on Friday in north-eastern Hungary. Gripen fighters were scrambled to check out the airspace where the object had been detected but found no aircraft, they added.
“The war in Ukraine makes it especially important for such incidents to be handled calmly and in a well thought out manner,” the ministry said, stressing that Hungary aimed to stay out of the war
“even if such incidents are of a provocative nature”.
Defence Minister Tibor Benkő and Chief of Defence Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi are both in contact with their Croatian counterparts and representatives of neighbouring countries, the statement said. The countries of the region are investigating the incident and sharing their findings with each other, it added. The ministry told MTI that it is wary of provocation and does not want Hungary to be dragged into the war due to any unnecessary measures. The ministry therefore chooses to carry out inspections before taking any action if an aircraft is capable of carrying weapons, it added.