AFTER BEING overhauled by RSK MiG, in co-operation with Serbia’s Batajnica-based Moma Stanojlovic facility, the first of five Serbian Air Force MiG-29s has been returned to service. The aircraft, 18101 (c/n 2960525085), made its first post-overhaul test flight on February 11, a year after work had commenced. Final work is now also being undertaken on the remaining aircraft, comprising single-seaters (Model 9-12A) 18102 (c/n 2960525086), 18105 (c/n 2960525095) and 18108 (c/n 2960525100), plus twin-seat MiG-29UB (Model 9-51) 18301 (c/n 50903006375).
Work on the aircraft was extensive, involving complete disassembly at Moma Stanojlovic before all major components and systems were airlifted to Russia onboard Russian Air Force An-22s. Meanwhile, the complete airframe was overhauled at Batajnica. Besides a life extension that will provide the aircraft with at least ten more years of service, or 700 flying hours, ICAO compliant navigation and communication systems have also been installed on the Fulcrums.
A contract for work on four MiG-29s, which also included some modernisation, was signed in Belgrade on December 23, 2006, between RSK MiG and Serbian state arms trading company Yugoimport-SDPR. The Serbian Finance Ministry is funding the 22.4 million euro cost of the programme from its National Investment Plan (NIP). Because of the difference in price caused by the inclusion of value added tax, the fifth MiG-29 was not included in the original contract. The work on that aircraft has been arranged as a separate deal and will be financed from the 2008 NIP budget.
The upgraded MiG-29s will equip the 101st Fighter Aviation Squadron at Batajnica air base. Its two flights will also continue to operate MiG-21bis and MiG-21UM aircraft. After being handed over to the 101st Squadron, young pilots who have until now only flown on the MiG-21 will be re-trained on the MiG-29s. This is necessary because all previously qualified MiG-29 pilots have left the squadron for appointments in unit commands within the SAF.
All five of SAF’s MiG-29s were manufactured in 1987 and survived the 1999 NATO air attack during which ten Serbian Fulcrums were destroyed in the air and on the ground, whilst another was a victim of a non-combat related accident. After the war, the surviving MiG-29s were used for training until April 2004, when they were grounded because of the expiration of their service lives.