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Russian MiGs to be repaired in Serbia

Reparation of the donated Russian MiG aircrafts will be done in Serbia, the Ministry of Defense told Insajder.net.

Srđan Ilić: MIG-29 na aerodromu Batajnica
Photo: Srđan Ilić / MIG-29 na aerodromu Batajnica

The repair of Russian MiGs, for which the Serbian Government claims are a donation from Moscow, will be conducted by Russian specialists in the Serbian Army facilities, the Ministry said on Friday.

“According to the contract, the deadline for completion of the planned outage is eight to ten months in succession, but not longer than twelve months from the time of aircraft delivery to Serbia,” added the Ministry in a written statement to Insajder.net.

In mid December, the Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic announced before his visit to Moscow that Serbia will purchase six MiG-29s from Russia. From his initial statement, it was unclear whether the airplanes would be a donation or whether Serbia would buy them.

It was confirmed afterwards that the aircrafts are a donation, but Serbia will have to pay around 185 million USD for their reparation.

In addition to the aircrafts, Serbia is getting thirty T-72 tanks and thirty BRDM-2 amphibious armoured cars. According to the Defense Minister Zoran Djordjevic, the tanks and armored cars will also be repaired. They are a modern version of those that Serbia already has in its armament. The question is why Serbia needs more tanks when there are already over 200 operational tanks of a more advanced model T-84 and several T-72s. The T-84 model was made in former Yugoslavia, and it is far superior to its older platform T-72. Serbia also has several hundreds of older tank models in reserve, which makes it a regional power given that some of the Balkan countries have far less tanks, while others, like Montenegro, do not even have tanks in their armament.

Nenad Miloradovic, the Deputy Minister of Defense, recently confirmed for the Radio Free Europe that Russian airplanes will be disassembled in the Russian Federation and transported to Serbia by cargo aircrafts.

Milovanovic said that he did not know the details of how the transportation will be managed, whether some of the Russian officials will come or whether there will be a welcoming ceremony.

“The authorities and specialists on both sides are working intensively on the project. One of the six donated MiG-29s is considered to be repaired in Russia for technical reasons, i.e. the required level of repairs on that aircraft,” he said.

However, Miloradovic could not specify when the aircrafts will arrive to Serbia. He said that this information will be known after the executive order of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Miloradovic explained that Serbia did not pay for the aircrafts since they are a Russian donation, but Serbia will pay 185 million USD for their repair. The Deputy Minister also said that this amount will cover general repairs for ten MiGs. Serbia currently owns four MiGs, and with the six new ones, it will have a full squadron.

”The aircrafts from Russia are free of charge, they are donated. The amount of 185 million USD includes general reparation and the 3-year extension period of service for the six MiGs. It also includes one more extension period of service for all ten MiGs, which is due after the expiration of the initial 3-year extension period,” he said.

The contract on Russian donation classified

In the beginning of February, Insajder.net’s journalists requested from the Ministry of Defense the contract on donation of the six MiGs. The Ministry denied our request claiming that this information is classified.

The Ministry did not explain on what ground the information was denied to the Insajder.net’s journalists, even though they stated earlier that the acquisition of MiGs is an important security interest of all Serbian citizens.

In the reply, the Ministry also stated that “in collaboration with middleman JP Jugoimport SDPR, the Ministry made a suitable commercial agreement with the Russian representatives.”

“In this kind of contracts, the terms of mutual obligations are defined to protect confidentiality of data of both sides. Therefore, the Ministry of Defense cannot show or give a copy of the contract to third parties. Confidentiality also applies to the recently made contract with Airbus Helicopters. The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs signed a contract with this company on acquisition of nine H145M helicopters,” reads the response to Insajder.

However, the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance Rodoljub Sabic told Insajder.net that the Ministry of Defense is obliged to state “a concrete interest and reason” for denying to provide the contract, regardless of whether the contract between the authorized representatives of Serbia and Russia is declared a government or business secret.

“A commercial contract cannot deny the right of the public to know what is written in the contract that was signed in the name of that same public,” Sabic told Insajder.net.

Mina Milanovic, Milivoje Pantovic

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