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Armed Drone From War in Ukraine Washes Up in Bulgarian Resort

Bulgarian MOD
Courtesy Bulgarian MOD

Published Sep 19, 2023 10:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

Over the weekend, an attack drone fitted with an explosive device washed up on the shores of a resort town on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, the nation's military reported. It is the latest in a series of EOD incidents along the Bulgarian coastline that have been linked to the war in Ukraine. 

Overnight on September 17, a fixed-wing attack drone was discovered on the shores of the tourist resort town of Tyulenovo. The Bulgarian military dispatched a naval EOD team from the Varna Naval Base to the scene the next morning, and they determined that the drone was carrying a Soviet-standard 82mm explosive mortar round, a munition commonly used for drone attacks in the land war in Ukraine. 

Due to the drone's damaged condition, the responders determined that moving the munition safely to another site was impractical. They decided to blow up the device on the spot using a detonating charge. To ensure the safety of the controlled explosion, they designated a secure area with a radius of 150 meters around the site before setting it off. Nearby residents were warned to keep well clear. 

In a statement, Defense Minister Todor Tagarev insisted that an explosive-laden drone was a routine occurrence and posed no cause for concern.  

"These types of events happen weekly, even more often. The Bulgarian army maintains capacity and teams that respond according to clear and established protocols when detecting unexploded ammunition. The case of September 18 is exactly like that. Attempts to instill panic among the population on this occasion are unacceptable," Tagarev said in a statement. 

Separately, he told reporters that it's reasonable to assume that the drone came from the war in Ukraine. "This war is inevitably associated with increasing risks to our security," Tagarev said. 

The minister's statement has not reduced speculation about the source of the drone. According to the Kyiv Post, the downed device has every appearance of being a Dovbush T10, a midsize Ukrainian reconnaissance drone which began serial production in December. The Dovbush was designed to be resistant to Russian jamming, but has proven vulnerable to strong winds and bad weather, according to its developers.