Serbia is set to procure Rafale fighter aircraft

Gepubliceerd op 23 april 2024 om 19:55

© Concept by Yoran Bontje

On 10 April 2024, the Serbian government announced the procurement plan after President Aleksandar Vucic's visit to Paris earlier this week, where he held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. Discussions also took place with representatives from Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the Rafale fighter jets.

"The signing of the contract can be expected in approximately two months, with the presence of the President of France," Vucic stated.

The Rafale is a twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft, intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. 

The potential sale of Rafale fighters is estimated to cost around 3 billion euros (USD 3,3 billion).

This procurement signifies a significant departure from Serbia's traditional arms supplier, Russia. While the nation currently relies on Soviet-designed aircraft like the MiG-29 fighter aircraft, the Mi-8/Mi-17 transport helicopter and the Mi-35 attack helicopter, it also operates Chinese-made equipment such as CH-92A tactical armed drones and anti-aircraft missiles. The sale of French combat jets to Belgrade is likely to strain its political ties with Moscow.

In addition to the Rafale procurement, discussions have surfaced regarding the potential acquisition of H125M helicopters from Airbus. Vučić mentioned that talks with Macron on strategic state issues would also include cooperation in dedicated industries between the two countries, hinting at possible recapitalisation of Serbian companies by French firms.

Vučić emphasised the intention to continue negotiations on the Rafale procurement, while also mentioning the acceleration of cooperation for Airbus helicopters. This marks the first concrete confirmation of Serbia's desire to replace its aging Gazelle light multipurpose helicopters with Airbus H125M helicopters. Airbus has proposed establishing a facility for arming the military version of the Airbus H125 in Serbia, which would imply the purchase of a certain number of helicopters.

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