News of the imminent delivery of six Russian MiG-29 and their acceptance by the air force and air defense army of Serbia was a wonderful occasion to remember, as the former Yugoslavia bought these fighters.
A week ago, was presented the very interesting book “MiG-29 — our history” Danko Borovica, Drago Ivic and Zeljko Abovich that painstakingly described how the MiG-29 was in our Arsenal, and published a very interesting and previously unknown details.
In the book there is a Chapter where an experienced pilot and a retired General Branko Bilbija, who first made a sortie on the MiG-29, describes how these fighters came to us for service.
Bilbe says that the decision to purchase the new generation of fighters was made in early 1985. Then he was sent to a Warsaw Pact countries to assess the aircraft necessary for the air force and air defense.
“Reason and evaluation of aircraft types was the fact that most of our MiG-21 has expired technical resource. Had to buy a new fighter, which will compensate the lack of aircraft in the period up to introduction into operational service of a new aircraft, scheduled for 1995,” says General Bilbija in the book.
He adds that soon became known: it is necessary to fly the MiG-29 to assess its tactical-technical characteristics and how it meets our needs.
“No one in our country knew nothing about this plane, didn’t know what he looks like. The MiG-21 was the aircraft of the second generation, and MiG-29 fourth, that suggests a technological leap, which was prepared and Yugoslav military-industrial complex,” said Bilbija.
The Yugoslav delegation arrived in the Soviet Union in December 1985.
“The next day after arrival to Moscow we went on a military airfield Kubinka. We were brought to the hangar, where they presented the exhibition of several types of aircraft with weapons. All the models were known, except for one. I immediately realized that this is the MiG-29. The incredible appearance of the aircraft, a brand-new configuration…. With a very unusual air intakes, the shape of the wing…” — says the General Bilbija.
In the book he also said that the aircraft was allocated to the radar system of the new generation, the level not inferior to the French “Mirage-2000” American F-16 that were used by NATO. Bilby notes that the special was the optical sight, which in combination with the targeting system in the helmet of the pilot is allowed to launch a missile to the target, even if the plane is not moving in her direction.
“When our officers first saw the rocket class “air-air” K-77 with a range of 70 km, with the possibility of combined control (infrared, radar, Autonomous)”.
Little known that the Yugoslav delegation was the only one, which was then the Soviet Union showed new missile — in the course of further development it became the missile R-77. By the way, it did not show even the most loyal Soviet allies.
During the flight on the MiG experienced pilot estimated it highly. General Bilbija said that the characteristics he had noted during the flight, the MiG is the aircraft that the army of his country. The report (who was then a Lieutenant Colonel) Bilbie was noted, and on the basis of his opinion and the views of other members of the delegation of the government in mid-1986 adopted the decision on purchase MiG-29. In total, we acquired 14 single and two seater. The price was $ 15.9 million dollars for a “clean” aircraft, i.e. without weapons.
“Remember that at that time the price of “clean” F-16 or “Mirage-2000″ exceeded $ 30 million. All the reports of that period, and I prepared them for all foreign aircraft, which flew the MiG-29 had superior competitors features and was cheaper. Did the first squadron of MiGs, and according to plan, if our new plane is still not ready, will be purchased and the second. This would allow you to fully monitor and protect the airspace and the use of other fighters, which we had until a new aircraft”, — said General Bilbija in the book.
Why we chose the MiG-29?
In his introductory text book General Bilbie writes that Yugoslavia, who needed a fighter that would fill the void between the MiG-21 and the new aircraft considered the F-16, “Mirage-2000”, MiG-29 and the failed F-20.
“I did my job professionally as an experienced pilot, and I suggested that, regardless of someone’s desires, love and hate, to buy MiG-29. After the forward flight case confirmed that the MiG-29 at that time superior to the competition. Already at that time it was equipped with optical-electronic aiming system, which the West has copied and put into operation only after 10 years. Besides the MiG-29 cost the least (“clean”, without arms), and components for the MiG-21 is mainly suitable for the MiG-29,” wrote Bilbija.