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98. Vazduhoplovna Brigada; Batajnica, September 1 - 2, 2012

The Serbian Air Force, part 3; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The Serbian airbase Kraljevo-Lađevci is home to the 98.Brigada of the Serbian Air Force. There are 3 units based at this airbase which flies different variants of the J-22 Orao and the SA341 and SA342 Gazelle. There are also several detachments of the 98. Brigada based at the airbase of Niš-Konstantin Veliki.

The 241 Lovačko Bombarderska Aviacijska Eskadrila, (241.LBAE, 241st Fighter-Bomber Squadron) is the attack unit of the Serbian Air Force. This unit is stationed at Kraljevo-Lađevci where it is part of the 98.Brigada. The main aircraft of the unit is the Soko J-22 Orao. This fighter-bomber was developed in the former Yugoslavia. It was also built by the Romanians under the name IAR-93. The Serbian Air Force is the only air force which uses this type of aircraft. The Governments of Yugoslavia and Romania decided to jointly develop a new fighter-bomber on May 20, 1971. The new aircraft had to replace the obsolete Yugoslav Soko J-21 Jastreb and the American F-84F Thunderjet. The aircraft was robustly built and it had to be able to operate from damaged runways and grass strips. The aircraft would initially be a supersonic aircraft. The engines for the newly designed aircraft would come from England. This plan was changed, because Romania joined the Warsaw Pact and eventually the aircraft received two less powerful engines making it a subsonic attack aircraft. The first prototype of the J-22 Orao flew from the Serbian airbase Belgrade-Batajnica in November 1974. From 1978, the first Orao's were delivered to the testing facilities of the Yugoslav Air Force. Soon the aircraft were purchased by the Air Force. When the Yugoslav war broke out in 1991, there were only 3 units which were equipped with the J-22 Orao. The production of the fighter was still ongoing. After the war, all J-22 Orao aircraft entered service within the Serbian Air Force.

The 241.LBAE is the only unit in Serbia which still flies the J-22 Orao. The unit has five different variants of the Orao in use. The official designation of the J-22 Orao is actually J-2 Orao, because the Orao was a Serbian product the designation J-22 is often used by the Serbians. The letter J in the type designation stands for Jurisnik (Attack). The variant which was mostly used by the Serbian Air Force was the J-22 Orao. Only 1 of the originally 33 aircraft is nowadays in use at the air force. The J-22A is a modernized

version of the J-22. The Serbian Air Force has 4 of the original 24 aircraft in service of this variant of the Orao. The NA-22 is the training variant of the Orao. The aircraft has a dual cockpit for training purposes. The letter N is in this indication stands for Nastavni (Training). The Air Force has 2 of 31 NJ-22s still in service. The photo reconnaissance variant of the Orao is the IJ-22. The letter I means in this indication Izvidjac (Reconnaissance). The Serbian Air Force has 7 photo reconnaissance aircraft in service; the air force used 26 of these aircraft in the past. The latest variant of the Orao is the INJ-22 Orao. There is only 1 aircraft of this variant in service. In total, the Serbian Air Force had 9 of these aircraft in the past. This variant of the Orao is a photo reconnaissance aircraft with two cockpits. In addition to the Orao the 241.LBAE has also 2 UTVA-75s and 2 G-4 Super Galebs in service for training purposes.

The 714 Protivoklopna Helikopterska Eskadrila, (714.POHE, 714th Anti-armor Heli- copter Squadron) is the only helicopter squadron in Serbia which focuses entirely on the offensive role. The unit has 3 variants of the Gazelle in service and is based at Kraljevo-Lađevci. The 714.POHE is at this base a part of the 98.Brigada. Besides Kraljevo-Lađevci, the unit has regularly detachments at Niš - Konstantin Veliki. The main variant of the Gazelle within this unit is the SA341H. This Gazelle variant is according to the Serbian system referred to as the HN-42M. The letter H stands for Helicopter; this is a standard term for all Serbian helicopter types. The letter N stands for Naoružani (Armed Helicopter). The 714.POHE has 12 SA341H helicopters in use of the originally 37 helicopters. In addition to the SA341H, the 714.POHE operates also 4 SA342L1 Gazelle helicopters of the originally 43 helicopters. This helicopter type is referred to as the HN-45M where the M stands for the Modifikovan (Modified). The SA341H Gazelle and SA342L1 Gazelle are both used for offensive tasks within this unit. The helicopters are shared in a pool with the 119.MHE. The armed Gazelles can be armed with a gun on the side of the helicopter or with the wire guided TOW missiles. These missiles can be mounted on the small wings of the helicopter. In total, the Gazelle can carry 4 of these missiles. The missiles are suitable for the destruction of armored vehicles and tanks. The third variant of the Gazelle which is used by the 714.POHE is the SA342L1 Gazelle which is designated as the HO-45. The unit has 2 Gazelles of this type in use which is used for training flights.

The 119 Mešovita Helikopterska Eskadrila (119.MHE, 119th Mixed Helicopter Squa- dron) is the second helicopter unit of the 98.Brigada. The unit is stationed at both Kraljevo and Nis-Lađevci - Konstantin Veliki. The main tasks of this unit are Search and Rescue (SAR) and exploration. In the past, this unit flew with the SA341H. In total, the Serbian Air Force used 53 helicopters of this type which are designated as the HO-42. These helicopters are currently in storage at Niš - Konstantin Veliki. The SA341H (HN-42M) and the SA342L1 (HN-45M) helicopters are shared in a pool with the 714.POHE. To fly several reconnaissance missions, the 119.MHE has three SA341 Gazelles in service. These helicopters are referred to as the HI-42. The letter I stand for Izvidjac (Reconnaissance). This variant of the gazelle can be equipped with the viewer on top of the cockpit of the helicopter. In total, the Serbian Air Force had 21 of these helicopters in service in the past. During reconnaissance missions the helicopters were used for observation for artillery and as target designators for the armed variants of the Gazelle. Also, these helicopters are used for the evacuation of wounded soldiers. The helicopters can also be used for SAR tasks. Finally, the 119.MHE uses also the SA342L1 Gazelle which is designated as the HO-45. This variant of the gazelle is shared with the 714.POHE and is used for training flights and observations. In total, the Serbian Air Force had 20 of these Gazelles in the past.

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