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20 May, 2024
 
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Serbia's deal with Cyprus strengthens air force

Mi-35s and self-propelled howitzers on the horizon

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In a move to enhance its air force capabilities, Serbia has acquired eleven Russian-made Mi-35 military helicopters from Cyprus, solidifying its position as a key player in the regional military landscape.

President Aleksandr Vucic revealed that a deal was struck in 2021 between the Cypriot government and Serbia to procure decommissioned Mi-35 helicopters in need of repair.

While the specific financial details remain undisclosed, Vucic disclosed that Serbia partially offset the cost by exporting domestically produced weapons, primarily artillery.

"We paid more than half of their value to our Cypriot brothers with our own weapons ... mostly ... artillery," Vucic informed reporters during a presentation at the Batagnića air base on Thursday.

In addition to the helicopter acquisition, President Vucic unveiled plans for the sale of 48 Serbian-made self-propelled howitzers valued at 311 million euros. However, the approval of this transaction is pending parliamentary consent.

Despite being a European Union candidate and boasting one of the largest militaries in the Western Balkans, Serbia maintains a reliance on former Soviet military technology.

Nevertheless, recent years have witnessed a shift as the country diversifies its arsenal, incorporating weapons systems and aircraft from Western and Chinese sources.

Earlier in June, Vucic had confirmed ongoing negotiations with the French company Dassault to purchase Rafale fighter jets, adding to Serbia's acquisitions that already include helicopters from Airbus and transport aircraft.

It's noteworthy that while Serbia maintains military neutrality, the country actively participates in the NATO Partnership for Peace program, designed for nations not aspiring to join the alliance.

Amid limited military cooperation with Moscow due to Russia's actions in Ukraine, Serbia has refrained from imposing sanctions on Russia, differentiating its stance from that of the European Union and other Western nations.

Serbia's commitment to defense is reflected in its budget, amounting to $1.43 billion, constituting 2% of the country's GDP. As Serbia strategically navigates its military acquisitions, these recent moves underscore its evolving approach to maintaining a robust and diverse defense capability.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  EU  |  weapons  |  Russian  |  Serbia  |  airforce  |  defence

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