Serbia’s MiG-29 Capacity Finally Begins to Grow

The final Soviet-legacy MiG-29 multirole combat aircraft gifted to Serbia by Russia under a six-aircraft arrangement has completed its overhaul and been returned to Belgrade for entry into Serbian Air Force service.

These MiG-29s were donated by Russia as part of a military-technical cooperation agreement reached with Serbia in late May of 2013. The used Russian fighters were delivered to Serbia in October 2017 and then returned to Russia for a roughly $213-$235 million overhaul program after first completing the necessary customs procedure.

Prior to their overhaul the MiGs were non-operational. The overhaul was funded via an extension of credit to Serbia by Moscow.

The “new” MiG-29s in question – four single-seat variants manufactured in 1989, plus a pair of two-seat UB trainer variants produced in 1990-1991 – now join four single-seat models inherited by Serbia from the former Yugoslav Army. These four Serbian MiG-29s were delivered to the former Yugoslavia in 1987 and were upgraded by the RAC MiG concern between 2007 and 2008. Serviceability issues, however, continued to plague them thus necessitating a Serbian push for additional combat aircraft.

Serbia’s quest for added airpower is not yet complete. According to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic the MiG-29 fleet will grow from 10 to 14 units by the end of March. This time the additional MiGs will come from used stocks supplied by Belarus.

Belarus reportedly signed a military-technical agreement with Serbia on January 26, 2017, in Minsk, that involves a gift of eight surplus MiG-29s from the Belarussian Air Force fleet of single-seat ‘C’ variants.

Support for its growing inventory of Russian-produced aircraft and helicopters will gradually be conducted in-country, with Serbia set to become a regional hub for repair and overhaul of Soviet- and Russian-legacy military aircraft and air-defense materiel.

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is a senior analyst covering both the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions for Forecast International's International Military Markets group.

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