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          • Year: 2002
          • Modernisation of the Yugoslav Army

          • 18. november 2002. Aleksandar Radić "Defence & Security" Bulletin

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          Aleksandar Radić "Defence & Security" Bulletin

          The Army of Yugoslavia (AY) is in the state which is without precedent in the modern military history. During ten years of its existence not a single piece of heavy armament have been purchased in the AYS. The last combat aircrafts and helicopters, tanks and armoured vehicles were procured in the former Yugoslav People`s Army, during the first months of the civil war in 1991, from the domestic factories. The procurement was limited only to purchasing minimal quantities of ammunition and spare parts necessary for keeping defence preparedness. The main reasons which obstructed realisation of broader plans of modernisation were: UN embargo on delivery of armaments to the countries of the former Yugoslavia, lack of financial support, breakdown of technological system of military industry and indifference of political elite to maintenance of armed forces capable of coming into conflict with real external enemy.

          The crisis which emerged due to cessation of AY modernisation with new armaments and military equipment was additionally heightened by war losses. The NATO air-raids have especially stroken Air Force and Air Defense of AY. The majority of combat-employable aircrafts have been destroyed at the airports and in the air. Out of 16 fighter airplanes MiG-29, 11 have been destroyed. A total of 36% aircrafts, which AY had at disposal on the day when the conflict with NATO began, have been destroyed. The air surveillance system lost 60% radars. 30% of air defence missile systems have been destroyed. Air infrastructure suffered destructive actions on over 70% facilities. Army and Navy survived with much less consequences since they were not the primary target of the air-raids.

          The indirect damage of air attacks was a dramatic deterioration of standard of material maintenance in AY. Many remount institutes and workshops were destroyed. Mutual problem of all the branches and services of AY is poor acquisition of spare parts. Breakdowns in regular maintenance systems emptied the stocks even for the equipment which had been produced in domestic factories before the destruction of the former Yugoslavia.

          The current state of the equipment is the worst in the Air Forces which are foreseen until the year 2004 to be practically left without combat and transport aviation. AY, according to the Vienna Document, reported to have 101 combat aircrafts, but the actual number of sound airplanes is only one fifth of total number of combat aviation squadrons. The remaining airplanes are out of use due to expiration of their shelf-life, unprofitable investing into the remounting and shortage of spare parts for maintenance. A small number of usable airplanes are completely out-of-date and by their combat capabilities lag behind as to the needs of any war scenario. AY disposes of very limited quantities of air-to-surface guided systems. The only system in use, AGM-65, which uses TV, has been withdrawn from service in other countries.

          Transport aviation is facing the problem of complete expiration of shelf-life of the aircrafts. Very bad situation is seen also in the squadrons of transport helicopters. Some of the aircrafts in use are 34 years old. The air defence system with its out-of-date air defence missile systems is not a useful tool to deter air attacks. On the top of the list of the priorities within the AY modernisation plan, which was made after the NATO conflict, is the procurement of the air defence missile systems, equipment for reconnaissance electronic countermeasures, radars for the system of air surveilance and reporting and command and information systems.

          The assessment of requirements is made on the basis of the real war experience, but is not suitable to a new, completely changed position of Serbia and Montenegro in the international community. An indispensable consequence of inclusion of Yugoslavia into the Partnership for Peace programme is the change in list of priorities in which the offensive long range systems will not find their place. International integration in the field of security does not diminish the need for maintenance of the expensive systems, e.g. the system of territorial air defence forces and fleet of striking naval forces. Modernisation of AY will have to be directed towards those parts of armed forces which are important for keeping the collective security system. These are in the first place special forces necessary for confronting global conflicts with terorist and other extreme organisations.

          Slow process of approaching the Partnership for Peace programme, continuous threat to security by Albanian extremists in Kosovo and south Serbia and results of political affairs in connection with military authorities have adverse effects on reviewing needs of AY in the field of technical modernisation.Therefore the plans have been adjusted to real financing possibilities and urgent needs. An example for such move is the decision on financing procurement of high tech equipment for establishing new system for control of administrative line between central Serbia and Kosovo. The highest ambitions in modernisation are currently seen in the Army which demands financing of the infantry, armoured vehicles, engineer equipment and atomic biological and chemical defence. So far the most has been done in equipping the infantry, mainly with localy produced procurement. The expenses are paid by finances from the regular budget of AY. According to the equpping model named «Enhancing the Capabilities of the 21st Century Infantryman», the units are supplied with ballistic protective equipment and new uniforms and shoes. The new equipment is first delivered to the security troops in the critical region in the south Serbia, then to the special forces and military police.

          Within the project «Enhancing the Capabilities of the 21st Century Infantryman», a new 5.56 mm submachine gun is being developed, in accordance to NATO standards. Fire support of infantry companies is reinforced introducing into service 30 mm automatic grenade launcher and 12.7 mm antimaterial rifle.The procurement from the domestic production is limited due to the insufficient budget, but so far the new armaments are given to combat groups deployed in the bases in the south Serbia. The intention of AY is to strengthen fire support on the level of infantry batallion, developing the new generation of 120 mm mine throwers with tactically-technical characteristics similar to the armaments used in NATO. Producing a self-propelled variant of the 120 mm mine thrower intended for fire support to mechanized infantry batallion is planned. Plans for equipping armoured units start from the assumption that there will not be a possibility for the longer period of time to finance procurement of completely new vehicles. The equipment currently in use will be modernized and at the same time its shelf-life will be extended.

          A prototype of tank M-84 equipped with a new system for fire control and active/reactive armour has been produced. A part of the technology necessary for tank remodelling has been ordered from Russia and it is the first larger project on the import of armaments tailored to the needs of AY. Relying on the domestic technologies, a modernized variant of an infantry combat vehicle M-80A/98 with mounted 30 mm gun has been made. For the time being, there are the intentions to equip the batteries with modern devices for fire control. Higher accuracy of fire may be achieved by procurement of guided weapon and reconnaissance radar systems.

          For a longer term, the artillery did not give up the plans of procurement of long-range surface-to-surface missile systems with launcher batteries up to 100 km in range. Equipping AY with offensive missiles is not acceptable in the current situation in the region. All other countries in transition have withdrawn the long-range systems from the operative service as a symbol of renouncing aggressive ambitions. Much more realistic is a part of procurement plan for artillery related to the improvement of antiarmor defence with missile systems of range above four kilometers and piercing power of over 1200 mm thick armor. AY has no limitations emerging from the international obligations in the cathegory of defensive armaments. At the same time there is a great need for procurement of new systems since the current equipment is more like a museum collection. The antiarmor armaments produced as early as in 1942 are still in use.

          Air Forces of AY have the least reason to hope to receive new equipment since too high a price of procurement exceeds the budget. Almost all the aircrafts, air defence missile systems and radars are completely out-of-date and investment to their modernisation is not profitable. Only the equipment of air surveillance and reporting which is being adjusted to modern standards changing the old electronic components has a limited potential for improvement. The job is done according to the step by step principle which is in accordance with the minimal financial support. AY found its technological support in local institutes and companies.

          The Navy is in a difficult position due to unpredictable future role within the union of Serbia and Montenegro and complete obsolescence of battleships. A significant number of ships is out of use because of lack of money for remount and change of parts whose shelf-life expired. The only way of modernisation is equipping the battleships of the current fleet with long-range ship-to-ship missile system and modern electronic systems since the procurement of completely new battleships is not possible because of its high costs.

          Inclusion of AY into activities from the programme of Partnership for Peace assumes in the first place interoperability of the signal communications system which is completely out-of-date and underdeveloped according to modern standards. The AY aircrafts must be equipped with an identification friend or foe device and radio-station according to NATO standard so as to be allowed to fly outside the territory of FR Yugoslavia. Technical equipment is less important for making first connections within the Partnership for Peace programme compared to the needs of acquiring new knowledge and upgrading intelectual values in professional members of AY. They are expected to acquire a solid knowledge of English language and accept modern standards of the role and organisation of armed forces.

          The equipment made in domestic industry for the needs of modernisation of infantry matches the NATO standards. The intention of AY to completely equip the elite special forces which may participate in the exercises of the Partnership for Peace programme and possible international peacekeeping and humanitarian operations completely matches its role within the integration processes. Initially those would be smaller units - on the level of platoon and company to batallion. Plans for equipment of other parts of Armed Forces of AY will have to be adjusted to new doctrinary documents and assessments of threatening to the security of the country based on the guarantees of the collective security system. The unavoidable consequences of the changes will be reduction of offensive combat potential in favour of reinforcing of a small number of quality equipped and equipped units of high maneuverability in the battlefield.

        • Tags: Yugoslavia, army, miltary, modernisation, reform, Army of Yugoslavia, equipment, armed forces
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