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Sloboda 2017 - Batajnica AB,  20 October 2017

This year on Friday October 20th a big military exhibition, called “Sloboda 2017” was held at Batajnica Airbase, near the Serbian capital Belgrade. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić invited citizens of Serbia to come to Batajnica Airbase with the message that they will see a different Serbian Armed Forces, which is slowly but surely strengthening the fighting- and firepower of the army. During the demonstrations the public will see more than 2.200 members of the Serbian Armed Forces, more than 130 different vehicles, more than 50 aircraft and helicopters and multiple weapon- and equipment projects on which the Serbian defense industry currently works. The event was attended by the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, and the highest state and military leaders of Serbia, Russian Defense Minister Sergéy Shoygú, President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik and representatives of the diplomatic corps.

 

Why did the MoD choose this date and this name for the event?

On October 12th 1944 one of the largest and most important battles in the Balkans during World War II began, the Belgrade offensive.  The  operation  was  part  of  a  complex  operational

plan of the Third Ukrainian Front of the Red Army and the NOJV. The National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia (NOVJ) was the Communist-led resistance to the Axis powers (mainly Germany) in occupied Yugoslavia during World War II. Its commander was Marshal Josip Tito. During the Belgrade offensive, the combined units of the NOVJ and the Red Army caused heavy defeats to the German army group ‘Serbia’ and liberated Belgrade and a large part of Serbia on October 20th 1944. The liberation of Belgrade ended a 1287 days long occupation of the Yugoslav capital by Nazi Germany, konačno sloboda! Freedom at last!

History of Batajnica and its units
Batajnica Airbase, is a military airbase in Serbia, about 25 km northwest of Belgrade. Construction of the airbase began in 1947, and was completed in 1951, when the airbase was officially opened. The main goal of the airbase was to protect the capital from attack. Batajnica Airbase was home of the 204th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Yugoslav Air Force during Operation Allied Force. From March 24th till June 11th 1999 NATO bombed air defenses, airbases, ground forces and high value military targets. Runways, SAM-sites, hangars and large parts of the infrastructure of Batajnica Airbase were destroyed during these attacks. Some of these scars are still visible on the airbase today. Eight MiG-29s were lost during the first two days and three others where lost in the days after, leaving the Yugoslav Air Force with only five Fulcrums after the war.

Nowadays Batajnica Airbase is home of the 204th Air Brigade, which was formed on November 15th 2006, and houses four flying units. The 101st Fighter Aviation Squadron operates the MiG-29s and MiG-21s. Only three MiG-21UMs remain in operational service, with the QRA as their main task. With the delivery of the ‘new’ MiG-29s, the MiG-21s will soon be withdrawn for use. The 138th Transport Aviation Squadron operates one An-2, one An-26, one Yak-40 and a civil registered PA-34. The 252nd Training Aviation Squadron operates the G-4 Super Galeb, the Lasta 95 and some UTVA-75s, which will be retired soon. The 890th Mixed Helicopter Squadron operates the Mi-8, various types of the Gazelle and the recently purchased Mi-17V-5. Besides these operational units Batajnica Airbase is also home of the Technical Test Center which operates a variety of aircraft and helicopters, and the Aeronautical Plant ‘Moma Stanojlović’ which carries out overhaul and upgrades of various aircraft types.

An impressive display of military force

A few minutes before noon, when all high ranked officers, ministers and diplomats already found their places on the VIP-grandstand, the Serbian Ceremonial Guard marched in to honor President Aleksandar Vučić. After the national anthem “Bože pravde” (God of Justice) the president inspected his guards and opened “Freedom 2017”.

The show began with the take-off of two MiG-29s which simulated the QRA task by intercepting an Antonov An-26. The transport aircraft was forced to follow the instructions of the QRA leader, who instructed the An-26 to land at Batajnica Airbase. As part of the exercise, a fighter pilot simulated that his aircraft was damaged and was forced to use his parachute. This is the moment when the combat search and rescue (CSAR) demonstration kicks off. Two HN-42/45 Gamas and a HT-49 (Mi-17V-5) moved into the area. The HT-49 searches the terrain for the missing pilot, the two Gazelles are performing fire cover from above. The pilot is located and evacuated by Special Forces coming out of the HT-49.

The Yak-40 parked at the apron was used for a simulated hijack. After the negotiations with the terrorists failed, a specially trained team approached the plane by using a fuel truck as cover. Within seconds the team is all over the Yak-40, waiting for the signal to enter the plane. After entering the plane aggressive antiterrorist tactics are used to release the hostages. The plane is inspected by specially trained dogs, and a suspicious bag is found and taken over by the bomb squad.

 

Terrorist groups have taken over the facilities of the airport, reconnaissance is done by some BRDM-2 light armored vehicles and an Israeli build Orbiter UAV. As the emergency response forces are engaged, thirty parachutists, jumped from an Antonov An-26, and performed a quick descent. While hanging in their chute the paratroopers began shooting, and fought their way to the ground. When at ground level, the paratroopers block the position of the terrorists.

A small group of terrorists is trying to escape, that is the moment when four Landrover Defenders of the “Kobri” (Cobra Special Forces) and two BOV VP armored personnel carriers of the Military Police are rushing in. Within seconds the terrorists are disarmed and discharged from the airport.

A big terrorist stronghold is discovered, BOV M16 Milosh armored multi-purpose combat vehicles are rushed to the scene. When approaching the facility, the Milosh uses both the machine guns and grenade launchers. That same moment two HT-40 (Mi-8) helicopters enter the airspace
around the facility under the cover of  two  HN-42/45  Gamas.  Special  teams  are
deployed from the HT-40 helicopters using the ‘quick descent’ technique and neutralize the terrorists. When the area is clear the emergency medical evacuation is demonstrated with the HT-49 (Mi-17V-5) helicopter.

Russian Swifts light up the sky

After the impressive demonstration by the combined forces of the Serbian Armed Forces it was time for the Serbian Air Force and Air Defense to show their stuff. A big flight past of various formations, which took off from Batajnica earlier this afternoon, came overhead the airbase. First we saw a formation of five J-2 Oraos of the 241st Fighter Bomber Aviation Squadron, based at Kraljevo-Lađjevci Airbase. Second was a formation of three G-4 Super Galebs, followed by six Lasta 95s all belonging to the 252nd Training Aviation Squadron, based at Batajnica Airbase. This was followed by three formations of three HO-42/45 Gazelles and HN-42/45 Gamas, operated by the 119th Mixed Helicopter Squadron, based at Niš-Konstantin Veliki Airbase; the 714th Anti-Armor Helicopter Squadron, based at Kraljevo-Lađjevci Airbase; and the 890th Mixed Helicopter Squadron, based at Batajnica. The flight past ended with a formation of two HT-40 (Mi-8T) helicopters, also operated by the 119th Mixed Helicopter Squadron.

Up next, the Russian Air Force aerobatic display team “Strizhi”, flying four MiG-29S and two MiG-29UB two-seaters. The team’s aircraft are painted in an overall red/white/blue color scheme and do not carry any smoke generators. All team members are part of the 237th Centre for Display of Aviation Equipment, based at Kubinka Airbase. The display begins with a tight echelon formation with the inner four aircraft popping multiple flares. What a way to start the show! After 15 minutes of formation flying the team splits, a synchro pair takes over the show, while the other four land. The synchro pair perform some spectacular passes before they split again, leaving only the solo pilot to end the display of Strizhi.

With the Russian MiG-29s back on the ground again it was time for the Serbian MiG-29s to finish the flying display. Three Fulcrums took off and performed a formation flight past with two aircraft popping flares. Unfortunately this was the only pass they did before coming in to land again.From the left, five large formations of soldiers equipped according to ‘Project 1.500’ marched in. The ‘Project 1.500’ is a military modernization project to equip 1.500 soldiers of the Special Forces with domestic Yumco-produced uniforms, new ballistic protection, state-of-the-art weapons and opto-electronic night vision equipment. After the infantry echelons, the motorized echelons of the Serbian Armed Forces arrived with at least a hundred vehicles, armored vehicles and tanks.

Russia donates MiG-29s to Serbia

With all the troops, vehicles and aircraft in position it was time for the official part of today’s event. Russia has donated six MiG-29 fighters to Serbia, a pair of two-seaters, and four single-seaters. Serbia received sixteen MiG-29s in the late 1980s, but due to the 1999 conflict the as Serbian Air Force & Air Defense had only four MiG-29s in airworthy condition. The donated MiGs were taken from stocks of the 31st Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment (31 IAP), based at Millerovo Airbase. The supply package also includes parts and spares for 3-5 years of normal flight operations. The fighters were delivered disassembled aboard Antonov An-124 cargo planes, but were handed over in airworthy condition. They had undergone only vital repairs necessary in Russia. Within the next few months, these aircraft will be modernized at the Aeronautical Plant ‘Moma Stanojlović’ in Batajnica. One of the donated MiG-29s was flown back to Russia only days after its delivery. Serial ‘18201’, which had its last overhaul in 2010, will be overhauled in Russia, before it will be handed over to Serbia again. The first ‘new’ MiG-29 is expected to be fully operational with the Serbian Air Force & Air Defense in June 2018.

The hand-over ceremony was attended by both the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Russian Defense Minister Sergéy Shoygú. In his speech, President Vučić thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergéy Shoygú for the long-term military collaboration and for the donated military equipment. In addition to the MiG-29 fighters, Russia has donated T-72S main battle tanks, BRDM-2 light armored vehicles and 14.5mm machine guns to Serbia. In the near future Russia will also donate two Antonov An-26 cargo planes to replace the outdated An-26 currently in use by the Serbian Air Force & Air Defense.

"The new equipment for the Serbian Armed Forces is not a threat, but a proof that we value life. More than 100 wars were fought for Belgrade, we laid millions of victims in the fight against evil. Here today, in front of our soldiers and technicians, I say calmly that we are ready to defend ourselves. No one will be able to attack Serbia impunity, we will defend our homeland", said President Aleksandar Vučić.

 

18151             c/n 2960526364                 RF-92185 / 14 bl     MiG-29 (9.12A)

18201             c/n 2960727445                 RF-93709 / 04 bl     MiG-29 (9.13)

18202             c/n 2960728107                 RF-93713 / 31 bl     MiG-29 (9.13)

18203             c/n 2960728141                 RF-93717 / 10 bl     MiG-29 (9.13)

18351             c/n N50903019679            RF-29166 / 101 bl   MiG-29UB (9.51)

18352             c/n N50903025459            RF-92196 / 75 bl     MiG-29UB (9.51)

 

 

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