Serbia abandons MiG-29s, moves to the French Dassault Rafale

BELGRADE, SERBIA — Belgrade planned to buy six MiG-29 fighters. Serbia currently operates 11 Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets. With the eventual acquisition of the additional six, Belgrade wanted to increase the combat capability of its air force.

First part of UAE's 80 Rafale F4 delivery program is in full swing
Photo credit: Dassault Rafale

However, Serbia is about to give up Soviet fighters. Serbian President Mr. Aleksandar Vucic announced that servicing the MiG-29 had become impossible. The war in Ukraine between Ukraine and Russia practically prevents almost anything military from being bought from Russia.

For this reason, Mr. Vucic announced that Belgrade is moving towards another alternative. French Dassault Rafale fighters are the best option, the Serbian president believes. Therefore, Serbia will send a letter for request [LoR] to France.

The French fighter is the preferred choice when buying an American one is to be avoided. Serbia, as a result of its historical conflict with the US, is unable at this stage to request the purchase of a US-made aircraft.

The French Rafale is the flagship of French aviation. First introduced more than 22 years ago, the Rafale guards the skies of Croatia, France, Egypt, India, Greece, Indonesia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Greece received the first six of eighteen Rafale fighters
Photo credit: Dassault Aviation

There is no word yet on whether Serbia will request the acquisition of the Rafale with armaments. It can be said that Belgrade’s choice is very correct at this time, as it will have access to the acquisition and integration of the best air-to-air missile in the world – Meteor.

The French fighter can be developed in a single or two-seater version. The fighter is powered by two Snecma M88-4e turbofans, 50.04 kN [11,250 lbf] thrust each dry, 75 kN [17,000 lbf] with an afterburner. It can reach a maximum flight speed of close to 2,000 km/h. Its supercruise speed is Mach 1.4.

Rafale has a combat range of 1,850 km. His g limits are in the range of +9 −3.6 [+11 in emergencies]. The aircraft is armed with one 30 mm [1.2 in] GIAT 30/M791 autocannon with 125 rounds. In addition to the Meteor missile, its air-to-air capability includes the MBDA MICA EM and IR and Magic II missiles.

The air-to-ground capability of the aircraft is not to be underestimated. Under the wings is an MBDA Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG and MBDA Apache missile. They are also considered to be among the best in their class in the world. The Rafale is one of the few fighter jets that can carry a missile with a nuclear warhead. Although Belgrade will most likely not get it, it should be noted that it is the ASMP-A nuclear missile.

Syria received second batch of modernized MiG-29 fighters from Russia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Serbia’s interest in Rafale can be seen as another negative blow to Russian arms exports over the past 12 months. Although there is not as much Russian influence in Serbia as some believe, Belgrade has always had an excellent relationship with Moscow.

There is no exact information on the current combat capability of the Serbian MiG-29SM. It is clear that the aging Soviet fighter jets need maintenance, and Serbia cannot afford to rely solely on them at a time when Russia is concentrating its military production capacity on the war with Ukraine. recalls that for the first time Serbia talked about acquiring new fighter jets in September last year. Then, the first rumors suggested a choice between the MiG-35 or the Chinese JF-17.


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