Serbia seeks fighter it might choose MiG-35 or JF-17 Block 3

BELGRADE ($1=121.06 Serbian Dinars) — The Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Serbia is in the process of renewing its armament. Serbian sources say the time has come for a new Serbian fighter jet. Serbia has already bought Pantsir-S1 mobile air defense systems, the Chinese FK-3 anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system, and the Chinese CH-92A reconnaissance and attack drones.

Russia 'shots' its most advanced fighter - the MiG-35 Fulcrum-F
Photo credit:

Serbian pilots are impressed by the Russian fighter MiG-35 4++ generation. As previously wrote, the MiG-35 is one of the most successful Russian fighters, in no way inferior to its competitors in the same class. However, Russia is gradually abandoning the project, and if it does not find a customer soon, the MiG-35 will be forgotten, like many other Russian weapons.

The MiG-35 will be rejected by Belgrade. The reasons will not be the operational capabilities of the aircraft or the characteristics. The reasons will be political, local analysts comment. According to them, the fear that Washington will attack such a decision by Belgrade with economic sanctions under the CAATSA law will dissuade the Serbs. The possibility of this happening leans more towards one hundred percent.

Some Serbian experts immediately turned their attention to another alternative. Of course, it is not an American opportunity, but a Chinese one. China’s JF-17 Bok 3. As already mentioned, Serbia buys from China. Sources close to Serbian political circles in Belgrade believe that the JF-17 Bok 3 will be not only a compromise but also a successful solution to the Serbian fighter jet crisis. Currently, the Serbian Air Force operates only 14 units of obsolete MiG-29s.

Serbia seeks fighters, it chooses between MiG-35 and JF-17 Block 3
Photo credit: Pakistan Air Force

Why the JF-17 Bok III? The JF-17 Bok III is a 4th generation fighter but is equipped with 5th generation avionics and weapons. The operational costs of the fighter are low and this will also influence the decision. Also, the JF-17 Block III uses technology from the J-20 stealth fighter.

Serbian experts comment that in case of possible prolonged air attacks, a Chinese fighter is an optimal option. The airframe of the JF-17 is capable of maintaining a high level of readiness. Aircraft maintenance is also kept to a minimum. Last but not least, it is expected that if Serbia buys the JF-17 it will receive it with its full armament. I.e. Belgrade will acquire high-class air-to-air missiles.

Serbia may decide to turn to France and try to acquire Rafael. But, JF-17 and MiG-29 have a common engine. I.e. Belgrade may decide not to retire its MiG-29 fleet, but to augment it with JF-17s. However, this means that the Serbian budget will be increased more than expected because the MiG-29 will need a heavy modernization.


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