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Serbian Air Force and Air Defence

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Serbian Air Force and Air Defence
V i pvo vs.gif
Serbian Air Force Coat of Arms
Active 1912–1918
Country Serbia
Allegiance President of Serbia
Type Air Force
Size 4,000 personnel
119 aircraft[1]
Part of Serbian Armed Forces
Headquarters Air Force Command, Zemun
Motto "За слободу и част Отаџбине"
"For Freedom and Honor of the Fatherland"
Anniversaries 24 December

First Balkan War

Second Balkan War

World War I

World War II

Operation Allied Force
Commander Major general Ranko Živak
Roundel Roundel of the Serbian Air Force 2006.svg Roundel of the Serbian Air Force (low vis).svg
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,[2] it was absorbed into the various Yugoslav Air Forces between 1918 and 2006.


The first Serbian pilot Mihajlo Petrović (1884–1913).[3]

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 14 February 1901 to 12 November 1902,[4] Miletić was also trained in the use of carrier pigeons.

On the recommendation of Miletić, the 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 "August Ridinger" company from Augsburg. At the reception ceremony, on 19 April 1909, Kosta Miletić flew a spherical balloon called Srbija (Serbia). One balloon was provided from Russia. A gas chamber was ordered from the Dillmann company in Berlin, and a 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 cadet airmen in Serbia was opened in May 1911, and in the following year the First class of Serbian pilots started their flying training in France from 21 May – 8 September 1912 and got the rank of pilot. They finished the course in the beginning of the First Balkan War with aircraft and the balloons that had already been obtained prior to the outbreak of war.[5] 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 approved the formation of the Aviation Command situated in Niš; the commander was major Kosta Miletić. It comprised: the Aircraft Squadron which counted 12 military aircraft, the Balloon squad, the Pigeon post and the Base. This date is regarded in Serbia as marking the official founding of the air force. This made Serbia, one of the first 15 states in the world to have an air force. The Serbian Aviation Command's first combat experience occurred in March 1913 over the Skadar. On the first combat flight sergeant-pilot Mihajlo Petrović was killed, the second pilot to be killed in air combat in history. The first recorded fatality was a Bulgarian pilot, Topradzijev, who was killed in 1912 when he was flying back from a 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.[4]

World War I[edit]

General mobilization in the summer of 1914 found Serbian air force not well prepared. At the beginning of First World War the airfield was build at Dabich Field near Valjevo. It is from that airport that Miodrag Tomich and Zivojin Stankovich commenced their first reconnaissance flights. At the Macedonian Front line, with the support of the Allied force, Serbian Air Forces were reorganized. First, Serbian-French joint escadrilles were formed, and by the end of 1916 a Nieuport division, while at the beginning and in mid 1918 the First and Second Serbian Escadrilles were formed.

World War II[edit]

Western Desert, North Africa. 19 February 1942. Armament personnel bombing-up one of the seaplanes of a Royal Yugoslav Air Force unit operating in the Middle East. Commanding Officer of the Yugoslav Seaplane Squadron was Vladeta Petrovich. His younger brother was Bosko Petrovich (1911-1937)

The attacking forces, engaged in the April War (6th to 17th of April) were 2373 aircraft strong, including from Germany 1212 aircraft, Italy 647 and Hungary 287 aircraft, while the Royal Yugoslav Air Force had 494 airplanes, only 269 of modern type. Thus the ratio, in the beginning of operations was 5:1 in favor of the enemy, and if we count only modern Yugoslav aircraft the ratio climbs to 7:1 in favor of the Axis powers. In spite of huge logistic difficulties and acts of treason (proclamation of so-called "Independent State of Croatia" on April 10th 1941) the Royal Yugoslav Air Force has fulfilled its duties with honor. Yugoslav airmen fought with incomparable courage against an enemy superior both technically and numerically. Especially, the 5th and 6th Fighter regiment pilots showed their bravery. During the war operations (6th to 15th April) a total of 1416 take-offs was made, 993 of which were performed by fighters and 423 by bombers. During this short war 135 flight crew members and 576 ground personnel lost bravely their lives. About 300 Yugoslav Air Force personnel were escaped, first in Greece then in Crete. After Battle of Crete they come in the deserts of Near and Middle East were for short time found safe place. But, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel with his Afrika Korps was already arrived there. In June 1941, was already formed the 2nd Yugoslav Squadron attached to No. 230 Squadron RAF.[6]

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia[edit]

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.[7] One aircraft, according to a Serbian documentary, was hit by friendly fire from the ground.[8] Another four were destroyed on the ground.[9] 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.[10]


  • Maintaining airspace dominance.
  • Intercepting and eliminating 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[edit]

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".[11][12][13] 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


Structure of the Air Force and Air Defence
  • Air Force and Air Defence Command
    • 210 bataljon veze.png 210th Signal Battalion
    • 333 inženjeriski bataljon.png 333rd Engineering Battalion
    • Air Medical Institute
    • Moma Stanojlovic Aeronautical plant
    • Section for Air Control, Protection and Allocation
  • 98ab.png 98th Air Brigade Kraljevo-Lađevci Airport
    • Tigrovi.png 241st Fighter-Bomber Squadron
    • Senke.png 714th Anti Armor Helicopter Squadron
    • Zmajevi.png 119th Mixed Helicopter Squadron
    • 98th Air Defence Artillery Missile Battalion
    • 98th Airfield Security Battalion
    • 161st Airfield Security Battalion
    • 98th Air Technical Battalion
  • 250 Raketna Brigada.png 250th Air Defense 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
  • 126 VOJIN.png 126th Air Surveillance, Early Warning and Guidance Brigade
    • Command Company
    • 20th ASEWG Battalion
    • 31st ASEWG Battalion
    • Air Maintenance and Supply Company


Current inventory[edit]

A Serbian Air Force MiG-29B
A Serbian SA341 on display at Batajnica Air Show 2012
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-29 Russia multirole 4[14]
MiG-21 Soviet Union fighter 10[14]
Soko G-4 Yugoslavia light attack 23[14]
Soko G-2 Yugoslavia light attack 1[14]
Soko J-22 Yugoslavia attack 30[14]
An-26 Soviet Union transport 2[14]
Piper PA-34 United States transport 1[14]
Mil Mi-17 Russia transport / utility 8[14]
SA341 France scout / anti-armor 341/42 31[14] manufactured under license by SOKO
Trainer Aircraft
Lasta 95 Serbia trainer 9[14] 5 on order[14]

Air Defense[edit]

2K12 Kub SAM of the Serbian 250th Air Defense Brigade
Name Origin Type In service Notes
S-125 Neva/Pechora Soviet Union SAM system 2 batteries[15]
2K12 Kub Soviet Union SAM system 3 batteries[16] tracked medium-range surface-to-air missile system
Bofors 40 mm Sweden Autocannon 1 battery per airbase[17]


The Serbian Ministry of Defence intended the 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.[18][19]

Military analyst Miroslav Lazanski claimed 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.[20] In June 2013, defence minister Aleksandar Vučić suggested that Serbia might purchase six MiG-29M/M2[21]

In July 2013, media reports suggested that Serbia might be interested in purchasing a squadron of medium transport helicopters, preferably the Mi-17.[22]

In the summer of 2014, Serbia abandoned its plans to purchase new MiG's from Russia or any other new aircraft in order to put aside 24 million dinars for the overhaul of G-4 supergalebs. This decision depend on the level of scientific-technological knowledge and financial capacity of the state. This is why Serbia is seeking a foreign partner for help in the modernization.[23]

Aircraft markings[edit]

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[edit]

The Serbian Air Force observed its centennial anniversary celebration on 2 September 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]


Generals Officers
3 vpvo - general pukovnik.gif 2 vpvo - general potpukovnik.gif 1 vpvo - general major.gif Vpvo - brigadni general.GIF 7 vpvo - pukovnik.png 6 vpvo - potpukovnik.png 5 vpvo - major.gif 3 vpvo - kapetan.png 2 vpvo - poručnik.png 1 vpvo - potporučnik.png
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
6 vpvo - zastavnk I kalse.gif 5 vpvo - zastavnk.gif 4 vpvo - starij vodnik I klase.gif 3 vpvo - starij vodnik.gif 1 vpvo - vodnik.gif 3 vpvo - mlađi vodnik.gif 2 vpvo - desetar.png 1 vpvo - razvodnik.png
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[edit]


  1. ^ Flightglobal - World Air Forces 2015 (PDF),
  2. ^ "Yugoslavia Air Force". 12 November 2006. 
  3. ^ M. Galović (29 July 2012). "Prvi srpski piloti" (in Serbian). Politika. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Slobodan Kljakić (2 September 2012). "Sto godina srpskog vojnog vazduhoplovstva" (in Serbian). Politika. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Air Warfare: an International Encyclopedia: A-L, by Walter J. Boyne, p.66
  6. ^ Royal Air Force Coastal Command: A short history of the maritime air force which protected the United Kingdom′s shiping during WWI and WWII, p 205 by John Campbell 2013.
  7. ^ Lok, Joris Janssen. "How Dutch F-16AMs shot down a Mig-29". Retrieved 7 September 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Niko nije rekao neću, drugi deo Predrag Milutinović pilot" (in Serbian). Radio Television of Serbia. 11 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum: Losses & Ejections". 17 October 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Serb discusses downing of stealth". USA Today. 26 October 2005. 
  11. ^ "Serbia fields improved S-125 missile". 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 28". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Rojters: Srbija kupuje borbene avione" (in Serbian). 16 December 2011. 
  19. ^ Zoran Glavonjić (29 August 2012). "Vojno vazduhoplovstvo Srbije čeka modernizaciju" (in Serbian). Radio Slobodna Evropa. 
  20. ^ Miroslav Lazanski (1 December 2012). "Novi "migovi" i S-400 stižu u Srbiju" (in Serbian). Politika. 
  21. ^ "Serbia nears new order for MiG-29s". Flightglobal. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Serbian air force marks centenary". 13 September 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  25. ^ "One Hundred Years of the Serbian military aviation". Retrieved 23 April 2013. 


Editors: Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia (1992). Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete 1940-41. Grub Street Publishing. ISBN 978-09-488170-7-6. 
Editors: Aleksandar M. Ognjević, Ognjan M. Petrović and Nenad M. Miklušev (2015). Serbian Air Force Memorial – Miodrag P. Tomic. Leadensky Books. ISBN 978-86-917625-1-3. 
Boris Ciglić (2009). Wings of Serbia 1912 – 1920. Infinitas d.o.o. ISBN 978-86-6045-005-2. 
Boris Ciglić and Dragan Savić (2007). Dornier Do 17 - The Yugoslav Story: Operational Record 1937-1947. Jeroplan Books. ISBN 978-86-909727-0-8. 
Aleksandar M. Ognjević (2014). Bristol Blenheim - The Yugoslav Story: Operational Record 1937-1958. Leadensky Books. ISBN 978-86-917625-0-6. 

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[edit]