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Serbian air force

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Serbian air force

Serbian Air Force and Air Defence

Active 1912-1918
Country Serbia
Type Air Force
Size 4,000 personnel
143 aircraft
Part of Serbian Armed Forces
Headquarters Air Force Command, Zemun
Motto "За слободу и част Отаџбине"
"For Freedom and Honor of the Fatherland"
Anniversaries December 24
Engagements Operation Allied Force
Commander Brigadier general Ranko Živak
Aircraft flown
Attack J-22, G-4,
Fighter MiG-29, MiG-21bis
Helicopter Mi-8, Mi-17
Attack helicopter HN-42M GAMA, HN-45M GAMA
Utility helicopter HO-42, HO-45
Interceptor MiG-21bis
Reconnaissance INJ-22 , MiG-21M, MiG-21bis modified, HI-42 HERA
Trainer Utva 75, Lasta 95, G-4, NJ-22
Transport An-2, An-26, Yak-40

The Serbian Air Force and Air Defence (Serbian: Ваздухопловство и противваздушна одбрана / Vazduhoplovstvo i protivvazdušna odbrana), is the air force of Serbia and service branch of the Serbian Armed Forces. Established on 24 December 1912 in the city of Niš,[1] it was absorbed into the various Yugoslav Air Forces between 1918 and 2006.


The first aviation pioneer in Serbia was major Kosta Miletić (1874-1953), trained as a balloon pilot at the Technical Aeronautical School near Saint Petersburg, Russia from February 14, 1901 to November 12, 1902,[3] Miletić was also trained in the use of carrier pigeons.

According to projects of Miletić, Serbian armed forces posed messenger pigeon stations (in 1908 in Medosevac near Nis and in 1909 in Pirot), and bought two free spherical and one tied kite – balloon from the company "August Ridinger" from Augsburg. At the reception ceremony, on April 19, 1909, Kosta Miletić flew a spherical balloon called Srbija (Serbia). One balloon was provided from Russia. A gas chamber was ordered from the company Dillmann in Berlin, and field winch from St Petersburg. A hydrogen unit was provided from the Swiss company Oerlikon. The equipment was delivered to Serbia in 1909 and 1910.

The first competition for the cadet airmen in Serbia was opened on May 1911, and in the following year the First class of Serbian pilots started their flying training in France from May 21 to September 8, 1912 and got the rank of pilot. They finished the course in the beginning of the First Balkan War (See also:Italo-Turkish War) which forced to equip Serbian military with the aircraft and the balloons (of course with a great material renunciation).[4] In the autumn of 1912, Serbia got the aircraft for its armed forces. On 24 December 1912 the head of the military Ministry Radomir Putnik signed the papers about forming the Aviation Command situated in Niš; the commander was major Kosta Miletić. It comprised: the Aircraft Squad which counted 12 military aircraft, the Balloon squad, the Pigeon post and the Base. This date is the date of forming of Serbian Air Force. This made Serbia, one of the first 15 states in the world to have an air force. Its first combat experience, the Serbian Aviation has experienced on the March 1913 over the Skadar. On the first combat flight sergeant-pilot Mihajlo Petrović was killed as the second victim of World Military Aviation. The first victim of military aviation was a Bulgarian pilot Topradzijev who was killed in 1912 when he was flying back from the reconnaissance mission over Edirne (See also:Battle of Adrianople (1913)). Mihajlo Petrović was the first trained Serbian airplane pilot. He completed his training and exams at the famous Farman pilot school in France and was awarded the international FAI license no.979 in June 1912. His Serbian pilot's license carries the number 1.[3]

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia

An important portion of the 1999 war between Yugoslavia and the NATO coalition involved combat between the Yugoslav Air Force, which was the predecessor of today's Serbian Air Force, and the opposing air forces of NATO. United States Air Force F-15s and F-16s flying mainly from Italian air force bases attacked the defending Yugoslav fighters—usually MiG-29s, which were in bad shape, due to lack of spare parts and maintenance. A total of six Yugoslav MiG-29s were shot down in 1999, of which three were shot down by USAF F-15s, one by a USAF F-16, and one by a RNAF F-16.[5] One aircraft, according to a Serbian documentary, was hit by friendly fire from the ground.[6] Another four were destroyed on the ground.[7] During the course of the air war, Yugoslav anti-aircraft defenses downed a USAF F-16C and an F-117 Nighthawk, the first stealth aircraft to ever be shot down in combat.[8]


  • Maintaining airspace dominance.
  • Intercepting airspace violators.
  • Providing air support and transport for terrestrial units.
  • Responding to natural disasters.



A Serbian Blériot XI prepares for takeoff in 1912 and MiG-29 takeoff in 2011.

The air force fleet consists of several Soviet combat aircraft, consisting of a number of MiG-21s, and MiG-29s. Serbia is looking to replace its aging fleet with new multi-role combat aircraft. Before its demise, the former Yugoslav Air Force was developing the Novi Avion project which was intended as a replacement. The project was canceled in 1991 due to the collapse of Yugoslavia.

Serbia, as the largest succeeding nation of Yugoslavia, took possession of the entire Yugoslav Air Force inventory. After the Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control was enacted in 1996, dozens of J-22, J-21 and G-2s have been withdrawn from service.

The air force operates from three major air bases, the 204th Batajnica Air Base and 98th Lađevci Air Base and Niš Air Base.

Air Defence

The Serbian air force operates a variety of Soviet surface-to-air missile systems. Many are long-range with a moderate amount of short-range weapons assigned to infantry units. The 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade operates SA-3 and SA-6 surface-to-air missile systems. The military is upgrading both types with fire-and-forget ability. The air force has upgraded "Neva-M" to the "Neva-M1T" standard and "Kub-M" to "Kub-M2".[9][10][11] For defending air bases and important infrastructures Bofors 40mm L-70 in complement with M-85 Zirafa radars are used, and for engaging low flight targets 9K38 Igla or SA-18.


  • S-605/654 Observation radars
  • S-613 Altitude measurement radar
  • AN/TPS-70 3D radar
  • AS-74 and AS-84 automatized systems


  • Air Force and Air Defence Command
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      210th Signal Battalion
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      333rd Engineering Battalion
    • Air Medical Institute
    • Moma Stanojlovic Aeronautical plant
    • Section for Air Control, Protection and Allocation
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    204th Air Brigade Batajnica Air Base
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      101st Fighter Squadron
    • 252nd Training Squadron
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      138th Transport Squadron
    • 890th Mixed Helicopter Squadron
    • 24th Air Technical Battalion
    • 17th Airfield Security Battalion
    • 177th Air Defence Artillery Missile Battalion
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    98th Air Brigade Kraljevo-Lađevci Airport
    • 241st Fighter-Bomber Squadron
    • 714th Anti Armor Helicopter Squadron
    • 119th Mixed Helicopter Squadron
    • 98th Air Defence Artillery Missile Battalion
    • 98th Airfield Security Battalion
    • 161st Airfield Security Battalion
    • 98th Air Technical Battalion
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    250th Air Defence Missile Brigade
    • Command Company
    • 1st Air Defence Missile Battalion
    • 2nd Air Defence Missile Battalion
    • 230th Air Defence Self-Propelled Missile Battalion
    • 240th Air Defence Self-Propelled Missile Battalion
    • 310th Air Defence Self-Propelled Missile Battalion
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    126th Air Surveillance, Early Warning and Guidance Brigade
    • Command Company
    • 20th ASEWG Battalion
    • 31st ASEWG Battalion
    • Air Maintenance and Supply Company

Aircraft inventory

Aircraft Image Origin Role Version Quantity[12][13] Note
Combat aircraft
Mikoyan MiG-29  Soviet Union Fighter
Overhauled in 2008, service life extended by 700 flight hours.[14]
Mikoyan MiG-21  Soviet Union Fighter
To be retired by 2018.[15]
Soko J-22 Orao  Yugoslavia Fighter-bomber
Soko G-4 Super Galeb  Yugoslavia Advanced trainer/light ground-attack N-62 23 8 to be upgraded.[16]
Utility aircraft
Antonov An-2  Soviet Union Light transport An-2TD 1
Antonov An-26  Soviet Union Medium transport An-26 2
Piper PA-34 Seneca  United States Aerial cartography PA-34 V 1
Trainer aircraft
Utva 75  Yugoslavia Basic trainer V-53 14
Lasta 95  Serbia Basic trainer V-54 8[17] 15 ordered[18]
Soko Gazelle  Yugoslavia Utility
HI-42 Hera
HN-42M Gama
HN-45 Gama 2
License-built SA 341H/SA 342L.
Mil Mi-8/Mi-17  Soviet Union Medium transport Mi-8T / HT-40
Mi-17 / HT-48


The Serbian Ministry of Defence intends to purchase of new multirole combat aircraft to replace its aging fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-29 combat aircraft. Reports in the media speculate between 12 and 16 aircraft would be ordered and listed the F-16, F-18, Rafale, JAS 39 Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, Su-30 or the MiG-29M as possible candidates.[19][20]

Military analyst Miroslav Lazanski claims Russia is offering Serbia 12 MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft along with S-300PMU-2 and Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems, as well as two radars for its air defence.[21] In June 2013, defence minister Aleksandar Vučić suggested that Serbia might purchase six MiG-29M/M2[22]

In July 2013, media reports suggested that Serbia might be interested in purchasing a squadron of medium transport helicopters, preferably the Mi-17.[23]

Aircraft markings

The Serbian Air Force roundel was officially adopted in 2006. The roundel is an adapted version of the former Royal Yugoslav Air Force roundel which ceased to exist in 1943. It is composed of a blue trim on the outside rim followed inward by the Serbian national colours red, blue and white, with a white cross in the centre with blue trim.

The Air Force also uses a low visibility roundel of the same design only replacing the traditional roundel colours of red, blue and white with two grey colour variations of light and dark for contrast, these roundels have most recently been placed on refurbished MiG-29s. Most other aircraft continue to use the standard coloured roundel.

Serbian Air Force Centennial

The Serbian Air Force observed its centennial anniversary celebration on September 2, 2012, marking one-hundred years of its existence by hosting an international air show organized by the Ministry of Defense as the central manifestation.[24] The air show featured representatives from 16 countries around the world and 27 kinds of aircraft.[25]


Main article: Military ranks of Serbia
Generals Officers
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Ranks in Serbian Генерал
Бригадни Генерал
Brigadni General
Ranks General Lieutenant Colonel General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant
NCOs Soldiers
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Ranks in Serbian Заставник I класе
Zastavnik I klase
Старији Водник I класе
Stariji Vodnik I klase
Старији Водник
Stariji Vodnik
Млађи водник
Mlađi vodnik
Ranks Warrant Officer, 1st class Warrant Officer Staff Sergeant 1st class Staff Sergeant Sergeant Lance Sergeant Corporal Airman First Class

See also


Further reading

  • Air Forces Monthly Magazine, Aeroflight
  • Vazduhoplovstvo Srbije na Solunskom frontu 1916-1918, Vladeta D. Vojinovic, 2000
  • Srpska Avijatika 1912-1918; MJV, Sky, EUROSINI; 1992

External links

  • Official homepage
  • Republic of Serbia - Ministry of Defence
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