"Vazduhoplovstvo i protivvazduplovna odbrana V i PVO"
(Air Force and Air Defence)
Serbian Air Force reorganized
After the Balkan conflicts of the nineties of last century the Federation of Serbia and Montenegro was formed in February 2003 out of the remnants of the Republic of Yugoslavia. On the basis of a referendum held on 21 May 2006, Montenegro declared independence on the 3rd of June that year. The armed forces agreed to split the assets according to territorial claims. The Air Force units in Serbia became part of the army of Serbia, with 82 aircraft and 89 helicopters. While in Montenegro the 172 aviation base at Golubovci Air Base near Podgorica with a mixed squadron with 41 aircraft and helicopters became part of the Army of Montenegro.
The Vazduhoplovstvo i protivvazduplovna odbrana V i PVO (Air Force and Air Defence) was by 2010 reorganized and retrained op to NATO standards. In March 2005 the first NATO-style wing was formed at Podgorica, Montenegro as the 172.abr (avijacsijka brigada - aviation brigade). It controlled four units a flying squadron 239.mae (mesovita avijacijska eskadrila – Mixed Aviation Squadron), a maintenance battalion and a base service and supply battalion and the 251.lbae lovachko-bombarderski avijacijska eskadrila – Fighter Bomber Aviation Squadron) at Kovin, Serbia all under a single command. The squadrons do not have aircraft assigned. The aircraft are assigned to the Technical Battalion.
Batajnica - 204.ab
At Batajnica on November 15, 2006, 204.ab (avijacijska baza - Aviation Base) was officially formed replacing 204.lap (lovacka avijacijska puk - Fighter Aviation Regiment). Currently it has three flying squadrons 101, 138 and 252 and an aviation flight, the 24th Ytechnical Maintenance Battalion, the 17th Support Battalion and a the 177th Air Defense Battalion under a single command.
101.lae "Vitezovi" (Knights).
This QRA pilot made a "Tango alert" mission with his fully armed MiG-21bis 17222 on 17 August 2010. After he returned he stopped in front of us.
126 lae (lovac avijacijska eskadrila – Fighter Aviation Squadron) and 127.lae were merged into a new squadron with designation 101.lae adopting the Knights badge of 127.lae. It is operating the MiG-29, MiG-21bis and a pair of MiG-21UM trainers.
MiG-21bis 17163 in MiG-29 colors.
138.mtrae (mesovita transportna avijacijska eskadrila – Mixed Transport Aviation Squadron)
(With a flight at Nis with an An-26 and two An-2s)
Part of the reorganization was the forming of 138.mtrae (mesovita transportna avijacijska eskadrila – Mixed Transport Aviation Squadron). The squadron is resposible for airlift, VIP transport, liaison, anti tank missions, special forces support and earial photography. It received the An-26, Yak-40 and Do-28D2s previously operated by the disbanded 677.trae.
In 1975-1977 14 Antonov An-26 were received followed by a single example in 1984. Currently three are in service, following overhaul and modernization. The first reworked An-26 returned during 2008 in a grey scheme. A second followed to Rostov-on-Don in Russia and returned in May 2009.
The Yak-40s include two VIP aircraft 71503 and 71504. The former now painted in the Serbian national colour scheme flowing overhaul in Belarus, and two aircraft from the Traffic Services Agency for NAVAID calibration. One of the Do-28Ds is used for geographical survey. The second Dornier is withdrawn and used for spares. The squadron also received the helicopters from the disbanded 890.mhe (mesovita helikopterska eskadrila - Mixed Helicopter Squadron), and includes the Mi-8T (HT-40) and Gazelles (HM-45/HO-45). The 138 number represents a symbolic connection to the 138th Brigade to which both the 677th and 890th were assigned until the 138th was disbanded on June 24, 1997.
The 138 squadron number is a deviation from the former Yugoslav squadron number system whereby the first digit denotes the squadrons role: 1 fighter, 2 fighter bomber, 3 reconnaissance, 6 transport, 7 helicopter, 8 helicopter.
SLI – Sektor za Letna Ispitivanja, Flight Test Section - Batajnica
SLI is part of the Technical Test Center. It was previously known as VOC vazduhoplovstvi optini centar - Flight Test CenterIt conducts testing and verification of aircraft, airborne equipment including avionics, modifications (upgrades) and weapon systems.
Utva-75 53244 during a morning flight.
Super Galeb G-4 23601 with 30th anniversary markings of the first flight of the type on July 18, 1978. The "IR code" refers to the agreements about fixed numbers of aircraft part of the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995.
Soko G-2Š Galeb 23252 makes a mission on 17 August 2010.
Test pilots are drawn from operational units, and are selected following a competition between the candidates. The syllabus for test pilots is one year. SLI has a hand full of aircraft and helicopters on permanent assignment including the sole surviving Air Force G-2S Galeb, a few G-4 Super Galeb, a single J-22 and NJ-22 Orao, a few Gazelles and an Utva-75 and the Lasta-95 prototype. If required aircraft and helicopters are loaned from Air Force units.
Both local produced and western weapons are tested and certified. In 2008 two VOC aircraft were painted in special schemes. Orao J-22 25207 was in a striking black and white colour scheme representing an Eagle the English name for the Orao. And a red and white tail with stylized Serbian national coat of arms and four Cyrillic S letters, meaning Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava, only unity can save the Serbs.
Following completion of its overhaul on February 7, 2007 Super Galeb G-4 23736 was painted in a special scheme for celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first flight of the type on July 18, 1978. The aircraft crashed on September 24, 2008 on Batajnica Air Base while practicing an aerobatic display for the airshow on 27 September. The pilot Istvan Kanas was in charge of SLI and was killed in the crash.
Ladjevci - 98.ab
In 2007 the based regiment 98.lbap (lovacka bombarderski avijacijski puk – Fighter Bomber Aviation Regiment) was replaced by the 98.ab. The 98.ab controls the units at Ladjevci and Nis in the south. Based at Ladjevci are 241.lbae with 15 J-22 and seven NJ-22 (duals) Orao and some Super Galeb G-4 and G-4Š (unarmed version). The tiger head badge of the squadron is applied to the noses of the Oraos and since 2006 also the Super Galebs.
For keeping up flying provenience and liaison tasks the squadron has a few Utva-75s.
The reconnaissance Oraos are now with 2.iao (izvidacko avijacijsko odeljeaje – Reconnaissance Flight) and has eight IJ-22 and two INJ-22. It is the successor of 353 iae izvidzhacka avijacijska eskadrila, Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron) and retained the badge of that squadron.
Tiger Unit pilots from the 241.lbae visited the 2009 Tiger Meet at Kleine Brogel in Belgium as observers. Due to a tight budget they will stay in the observer role for the time being.
On 3 June 3 2010 a J-22 Orao crashed into Gruza Lake near Knic. The pilot ejected safely after he directed the aircraft into the Gruza Lake, due to a malfunction of the left landing gear, thus avoiding any possible harm to third persons. Pending investigation into the cause of the landing gear malfunction all Oraos were grounded, in mid August they were still grounded.
The 119th Regiment at Nis with three squadrons and its 47 Mi-8 and Gazelles were in 2007 transferred to 98.ab control. The Regiment had two squadrons at Nis 712.pohe protivoklopna helicopterka eskadrila, anti-armour helicopter squadron with the Gazelle and 787.trhe with the Mi-8. These were combined into a single squadron 119.mhe supporting special forces. The third squadron is at Ladjevci 714.pohe at Ladjevci with HO-42 and HN-42M GAMA Gazelle helicopters. Also at Nis was the 3rd flight of 677.trae with the An-2 and An-26. The An-2s are used for paratroop training. Probably a flight of 138.mtrae is now based at Nis.
J-22A Orao 25154 ready for the afternoon mission.
Two G-4 Super Galebs on final at Ladjevci on 19 August 2010.
The crew of G-4 Super Galeb 23642 after the mission.
G-4 Super Galeb 23642 back to flightline.
Many activities took place at Ladjevci with the Gazelles in the afternoon of 19 August 2010. Seen are 12806, 12719 and 12833.
We thank the Ministry of Defense of Serbia for their great support to make these visits possible. The hospitality at Batajnica and Ladjevci was great. We have forgotten the names of all the persons who have helped us with all our wishes, everything was possible and done very friendly.
The authors: Marinus Dirk Tabak, Volkert Jan van den Berg and Jack Bosma.