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Serbia showcases modernised combat aircraft, debuts armed UAV

A modernised MiG-29SM seen at an event hosted by the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence at Batajnica air base, near Belgrade. (Igor Bozinovski)

Serbia showcased its first modernised MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum' and SOKO Orao combat aircraft, and debuted the Pegaz armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Štit (Shield) 2022 military power demonstration held on 30 April at Batajnica air base.

10 MiG-29s were seen at the event near Belgrade. Of Serbia's fleet of 11 single-seat and 3 twin-seat aircraft, six single-seat jets have to date been modernised to the MiG-29SM standard with Russian assistance.

The static-displayed MiG-29SM (18151) showcased the new capabilities of the Fulcrum fleet. Identified as MiG-29SM+ by Nenad Miloradović, assistant minister for material resources in the Serbian Ministry of Defence (MoD), this aircraft's weapons fit proved that Serbia recently acquired new missiles that, when combined with the modernised aircraft radar and the newly installed Ural Optic-Mechanical Plant's KOLS-13SM infrared search and track (IRST) sensor, have turned Serbian MiG-29SMs into multirole combat aircraft.

While details of the MiG-29SM's N019 radar remains classified, weapons showcased comprised the RVV-AE (export designation for R-77E) active-radar-homing beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile with 80 km range; R-27ER1 medium range, semi-active-radar-homing BVR air-to-air missile with range of 100 km; Kh-29T TV-guided air-to-surface missile with 30 km range; and KAB-500Kr-U training guided bomb designed to develop aircrew skills in using the KAB-500Kr, KAB-500-OD, and KAB-1500Kr EO-guided bombs.

The event also featured eight Orao jets (2 single-seat J-22s and 6 twin-seat NJ-22s), one of which featured a nose modified with a thermal camera and a laser rangefinder, in addition to its new indigenously developed avionics and glass cockpits. A variety of Serbian air-to-ground precision weapons intended for the modernised Orao are still under development.

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