After Russia invaded Ukraine, there were disturbing plane flights over Central and Eastern Europe. Last week in Lithuania, a mysterious plane took off from Lithuania and illegally entered the airspace of several countries. The plane was later found in Bulgaria but without the crew. The plane that took off from Lithuania flew over Hungary, briefly over Serbia and Romania, and at 7:09 p.m. Wednesday entered the airspace of Bulgaria.
The two-passenger plane did not have an approved flight plan and its transponders were turned off. The pilot did not respond to radio requests and visual signals. According to the Hungarian press, the plane entered Hungarian airspace from Slovakia and landed at Hajdúszoboszló airport without permission. Gate Rtl.hu informed that the plane also tried to refuel at the small Hungarian airport of Hajdúszoboszló, but without success. The portal indicated that the airport supervisor wanted to speak to two people who had stolen illegally, but they allegedly threatened him.
When police arrived and approached the plane, the pilot “gave full throttle and took off” in violation of all flight rules.
The plane remained there for about twenty minutes, and the images from one of the airport cameras show that something was happening around the plane: the airmen would have filled up with the cans available.
According to the Romanian Ministry of National Defense, the plane did not have a confirmed flight plan and did not respond to any attempt to establish radio communication and ignored all visual signals.
Bulgarian media reported that around 5:49 p.m. CET, the plane entered Romanian airspace near Oradea, where it was intercepted by US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 86th Feteşti Air Base.
Around 6:36 p.m. CET, surveillance was taken over by two Romanian Air Force F-16s. While being tracked, the aircraft entered Serbian airspace for two minutes in an area between Drobeta-Turnu Severin and Korbovo.
Then, at 19:09 CET, the plane entered Bulgarian airspace, but no Bulgarian Air Force fighter jets were jammed. It flew at low altitude, difficult to catch up with hunters.
This plane broke almost every rule: it made no contact with the airport, nor did it communicate with air traffic control when entering the country. Later, when he was “caught” by the Gripe, he did not respond to radio calls or visual signals.
Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation to locate the pilot of the plane, who abandoned the plane immediately after landing on an unused runway at Buhovți Airport, a small airport near the town of Targovishte in Bulgaria. The plane was reportedly found covered in a tarp with no sign of crew or passengers.
The Bulgarian Air Force did not immediately blow up the fighter jets because “the plane was at no time considered a threat”, the country’s Defense Minister Dragomir Zakov said. The plane was flying at a very low altitude and at low speed, which would have made it difficult to intercept fighter jets. The plane had stopped to refuel in Vidin, a town in northwestern Bulgaria.
The aircraft registration number was LY-LOO. This registration number is held by the aircraft manufacturer Piper’s 1962 PA-23-250 Aztec but is no longer valid. Its build number is 27-2250. However, the registration number of this aircraft has been canceled 2006-03-14. Engine schedule resources expired in 2014. Propeller resources expired in 2017.
The aircraft had 7,700 flying hours, had not been used since 2015, had been painted and refurbished since 2007 and needed engine and propeller checks. The plane weighs 2,360 kilograms and has a range of 1,600 km, can reach a height of 6,000 meters and can reach a maximum of 398 km/h, according to information published in the sales announcement. Luggage capacity is 150 pounds.
It was previously owned by two Frenchmen and a Swiss, then it was sold to Lithuanian owner Bronius Zaronskis in 2006.
Bronius Zaronskis was born in Mediniai (district of Pasvalys) in 1950 (1950). He graduated from the Moscow Military Aviation School in 1968 and in 1973 from the Lithuanian Polytechnic University in Kaunas. In 1981 he graduated from the Institute of Civil Engineering in Vilnius. 1988–1993 and since 2001 – Director of the Panevėžys flying club. 1991–1993 – Commander of the Panevėžys Aviation Squadron, Colonel, District Mission Commander of the Association of Reserve Soldiers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
The plane was sold by Bronius Zaronskis on the Internet and, coincidentally, he is the manager of a small airport in Nida Air Park, where he moved in 2020.
A week before the incident, the plane was sold by Bronius Zaronskis for 29,000 euros.
According to him, three men came to inspect the device before a deal. They were not Lithuanian and communicated with each other in Russian. Finally, the plane was bought by an organization, but the seller claims to know neither his name nor the names of the buyers, which is very strange.
Zaronskis claimed he cannot remember which organization bought it because it was written in a foreign language. But given that they negotiated in Russian, the seller being a graduate of the military school in Moscow, it is highly doubtful that he could not read the name of the company. Moreover, it is doubtful that buyers who speak Russian with each other and with the seller will use the language of a third country (except Russia or Lithuania) to sign a contract.
So it’s likely that the plane’s owner got extra money for not revealing who bought it, and the buyers weren’t going to register the plane, because they bought it for a flight. (that’s why they bought the end of life one). The contract was most likely fictitious, signed by a non-existent company. Zaronskis sought to hide the identities of the buyers, as he told Lithuanian LRT that the buyers were Ukrainians, Romanians or Bulgarians, as the fact that they bargained in Russian prioritises the theory that they were from Russia .
According to Lithuanian airports, the plane did not take off from any major Lithuanian airports of Vilnius, Kaunas or Palanga, but it could have taken off from other smaller airports in the country. The plane was stored at Panevėžys or Nida airport, so it was probably a starting point.
The purpose of this mission could have been:
– deliver and unload cargo (cash, weapon),
– transfer someone
– to test the air defense system in the area,
– to track arms delivery routes to Ukraine.
However, we believe that the flight of planes from Lithuania is linked to some planes detected in the region in the last 4 months.
On March 10, 2022, a drone crashed in Zagreb after flying for over an hour and crossing the airspace of Romania and Hungary. Days after the crash, Croatian government and military sources claimed the drone was carrying a bomb, while independent experts claimed it was a reconnaissance model used for aerial recording. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said five days after the crash the drone was unarmed. Investigators determined after the crash that the drone was a TU-141 reconnaissance aircraft made in the 1980s in the former Soviet Union. But a red star on its wing had been painted blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, they said.
The range of this drone is 1000 km, with a maximum speed of 1100 km/h. But it would have flown over Hungary if it had taken off in Ukraine. It could have been a false flag mission.
Hungarian Air Defense detected and tracked the plane which flew through its airspace the night before it crashed in Zagreb, adding that the object identified as a TU-141 drone was recently used as a target of coaching.
On March 17, 2022, a drone crashed in Romania in the village of Dumitra, Bistrița-Năsăud county in Transylvania. “The origin of the plane has not been established and its owner has not been identified,” Cluj County prosecutors said. The drone has since been identified as an Orlan-10, which is used in groups of up to five people for tasks ranging from intelligence gathering to electronic warfare and locating targets for artillery and aircraft strikes .. The drone bore no markings or identification numbers. Russia is the only known operator of this type of unmanned aircraft.
So there is no doubt that the incidents with drones this spring and the theft of Aztec aircraft in June form a chain and are linked to the Russian GRU missions. They look like Russian things both in the origin of the drone (Orlan-10) and in the people who bought the plane in Lithuania, two of whom are likely to be its pilots during the flight.
As we are inclined to think that these incidents are related, the drone cases go beyond cargo delivery hypotheses. It is very likely that all incidents are related to Russian tests of air defense systems in the region, as they get the answers to the following questions:
1. Target intercept speed after entering air defense zone,
2. Forces and means of intercepting a target,
3. Their national origin,
4. Whether air defense systems are ready to destroy unidentified targets, including those like cruise missiles (Tu-141) in speed, altitude and size.