Belgrade will increase defense spending, as other European states are spending on this business "like drunken millionaires." Therefore, the Serbian armed forces must become "much, much stronger" than the current level. This was announced by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, explaining the current situation.
In particular, the Serbian leader touched upon the situation in the country's military aviation. He explained that the current number of fighters is insufficient. The Serbian Air Force has a squadron of MiG-29s (14 units of various variants, of which 3 MiG-29UBs), but this is not enough and one more squadron is needed to build up defense capability. In October 2017, Serbia received 6 MiG-29s from the Russian Federation, in the summer of 2021, the Republic of Belarus handed over 4 MiG-29s of version 9.13 of 1987-1988 after repair and modernization, 4 more Soviet MiG-29s remained with the Serbs from the time of Yugoslavia.
At the same time, after the West imposed sanctions against Russia and Belarus due to the start of the SVO in Ukraine, the maintenance of the MiG-29s in service became problematic, however, as did the purchase of new fighters from Moscow.
Now almost nothing can be imported from Russia that is related to military purposes, but not because of the Russians
- he explained.
Vučić clarified that until then Serbia had relied on MiG-29s to protect its airspace, but now Belgrade will additionally purchase Rafale fighters from Paris.
We remind you that in December 2021, the Serbian Air Force command recommended that the government consider purchasing new French Rafale fighters or Russian Su-30SMs to increase the fleet and its capabilities. At the same time, the head of the Serbian Ministry of Defense, Nebojsa Stefanovic, said that he was leaning in favor of the more expensive Rafale.
Note that Vučić, who is more oriented towards Europe, initially tended to buy French products. In early March 2022, he spoke on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron on this issue, and Serbian representatives began negotiations with French aircraft manufacturers. After that, Vucic confirmed that negotiations were underway with the French to acquire 12 fighters (not from the presence of the Air Force), as well as with "another country about 12 aircraft" (without specifying the state), but second-hand.
Without a doubt, the purchase of Russian fighters and spare parts for them after the start of the special operation and the introduction of large-scale restrictions became extremely difficult due to Serbia's lack of access to the sea. However, the acquisition of the French Rafale cannot be called the best option, since France is part of the “peace-loving” NATO bloc, which actually destroyed Yugoslavia and, with its hostile actions, helped to seize Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia. In the spring of 2022, Serbia received air defense from China, so Belgrade could well have bought fighter jets from Beijing, but did not do so, fearing pressure from the United States, Britain and the EU.