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North Macedonia to axe air combat power, focuses on military and civil support helicopters

A North Macedonian Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip' helicopter being used for fire-fighting duties. The country is to shed its offensive air-combat capabilities, in favour of new helicopters that will perform military and civil support duties. The ageing Mi-17s will also be retired. (Igor Bozinovski )

North Macedonia will axe the air combat power of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (Armija na Republika Severna Makedonija: ARSM), instead focusing on acquiring a multirole helicopter fleet for military and civil support.

Defence Minister Slavjanka Petrovska made the announcement on national television on 24 March, telling the Alsat channel that the combat helicopter component of the ARSM will cease to exist under the 2018-adopted Strategic Defence Review (SDR) White Paper, with the country's 12 Mil Mi-24 ‘Hind' platforms being donated to Ukraine (it had recently donated its Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot' ground-attack aircraft).

With the Vozduhoploven VING (vVING) air wing component of the ARSM looking to also retire its two ageing Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip' helicopters, Petrovska said that the service will in future receive eight new multirole helicopters that would primarily serve the land forces in the transport role but would also support the country's disaster relief capacities.

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