THE ARMY of Serbia and Montenegro (SCG) is urgently trying to overhaul its non-operational aircraft because it faces a long-term maintenance and spare parts crisis. During a visit to Moscow on June 25-26, Defence Minister Prvoslav Davinic and Chief of General Staff, Colonel General Branko Krga, spoke to Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov and Director of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Co-operation Mikhail Dimitriyev, about overhauling one Antonov An-26, one Yakovlev Yak-40, two Mi-17 transport helicopters and two Mi-24 attack helicopters. The first steps towards renewing military co-operation between Serbia and Montenegro and Russia will result in spare parts being delivered and overhauls carried out on equipment built in the former Soviet Union or under licence in the former Yugoslavia. According to state-owned news agency Tanjug, an overhaul agreement should be concluded shortly. SCG expects that part of the overhaul costs will be funded by Russia as part payment for the latter’s debts to the country prior to 1991. The Serbia and Montenegro Air Force has only one serviceable Yakovlev Yak-40, and that is used for VIP transport. The aircraft was built in 1972 and is now due for its next major overhaul. Three other Yak-40s were sold in May to civilian operators from Montenegro. Of ten An-26s delivered, only one aircraft – built in 1985 — has a future, but in order to remain operational it also needs a major overhaul.
Before the conflict with NATO, An-26s were overhauled at Batajnica air base, but during the air attacks in spring 1999 the Moma Stanojlovic overhaul facility was heavily damaged. Two Mi-17s and two Mi-24s from the Serbian Police Wing are also believed to have been the subject of negotiations for overhaul in Russia. The four helicopters should have been handed over to the Army of Serbia and Montenegro in 2003, but they are still based at Belgrade International Airport with a police unit.
The five surviving MiG-29s, of 16 delivered, allocated to the 127th Fighter Squadron, are not operational and are stored at Batajnica air base. The last flyable MiG-29, 18108, was grounded on April 1, 2004.
The Fukrums, which were built in 1987, were scheduled for overhaul in 1996. However, owing to a service life extension programme, engine replacements and application of an ‘on condition’ maintenance system, the aircraft had remained operational until recently. Although the estimated cost of each overhaul is $7.5 million, refurbishment is considered a priority and a deal should be signed in the near future.