Serb air force seeks new fighter jets

Pair of Serbian MIG-29 fighter jets

From Aleksandar Vasovic, Reuters:  The Serbian air force, left with just a handful of operational planes after wars in the 1990s, wants to buy a dozen aircraft at a cost of around 1 billion euros (1.3 billion), a defence official said on Friday. . . .

In an interview with the Odbrana defence bi-weekly published on Friday, Serbia’s air force commander Brigadier General Ranko Zivak said the defence ministry would invite foreign manufacturers next year to make offers.

Serbia’s military budget accounted for about 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) or about 1.15 billion euros in 2011 and next year’s military budget will likely stay the same.

The source did not elaborate on how Serbia would secure borrowing and stay below a public debt lid set at 45 percent of GDP and within fiscal rules which form part of a 18-month 1 billion euro stand-by deal with the International Monetary Fund. . . .

The Serbian fighter force is currently comprised of three MIG 29s and about a dozen obsolete MIG 21s which will end service by end-2012. In the interview, Zivak said the defense ministry would finalise purchase plans this month.

Top Serbian defence officials have said the country was evaluating Russian Sukhoi Su-30, the United States-made F16 and F18, France’s Rafalle, Sweden’s JAS Gripen, Chinese JF-17 or the internationally-made Eurofighter.  (photo: Kevin Martin)

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