Six Mikoyan MiG-29 multipurpose fighter jets, which Russia has presented to Serbia as a gift, will arrive in the Balkan country ‘within several days or several weeks,’ Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said after a meeting with the Russian president.
The fighter jets will enter service in the Serbian Air Force until the end of 2017 after repairs, the Serbian premier said.
“President Putin will sign a decree in the coming days to transfer the planes to us. Then, technical issues will have to be tackled: how to transport the planes, whether they should be disassembled into parts or one of the countries will provide its airspace for their flight. Of course, we favor the latter option because this is faster,” the premier said.
As Vucic said, the agreements on the transfer of the Russian military hardware were approved personally by Putin.
“Putin personally approved all that we had talked with [Russian Defense Minister] Sergei Shoigu on 30 T-72S tanks, 30 BRDM-2s and six MiG-29 planes. So Serbian citizens can be calm,” Vucic said.
The Serbian premier also said Serbia adhered to the policy of military neutrality and stayed outside any military blocs.
As was reported earlier, Serbia will receive six MiG-29 fighter jets, 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance and patrol combat vehicles from Russia for free. The upgrade of the fighter jets will be carried out in three stages and will cost Serbia 180-230 million euros.
The sides are also holding talks on Buk-M1 and Buk-M2 short-range antiaircraft missile systems and the Tunguska air defense missile/gun complex.
Another eight MiG-29 fighter jets and two battalions of Buk surface-to-air missile complexes will be transferred to Serbia by Belarus on condition that Belgrade pays for their repairs and upgrade and this hardware will be delivered in 2018.
Therefore, the Serbian Armed Forces will receive 14 fourth-generation MiG-29 fighter planes, 30 T-72 tanks, 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance and patrol combat vehicles, and also two battalions of Buk antiaircraft missile systems by late 2018, which will considerably strengthen the Balkan country’s defense potential.
Belgrade earlier signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters on the acquisition of nine H145M combat rotocraft.