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Serbia River Flotilla - Modernization

Serbia has made it clear that it intends to upgrade its defensive capabilities, contingent on the country’s economic and financial situation. The impetus behind this push is less the years of erosion of the Serbian armed forces’ capabilities than steps taken by neighboring Croatia to shore up its own military. Confronted with budgetary pressures and diminished buying power due to a slide in the value of its local currency, Belgrade has sought help from its traditional ally, Russia.

Most of the River Flotilla's core assets date from the 1970s, andt have been well maintained and are subject to periodic upgrades. Most of the flotilla's vessels are considered to be adequate to the tasks required of them for at least another decade. The five Nestin-class river minesweepers which constitute the core of the River Flotilla are expected to be in service with the River Flotilla until 2028. Similarly, five Type 22 landing craft and three Type 20 patrol are nd readily maintained and are also expected remain in service for some time.

To supplement these vessels, the flotilla has procured a number of small civilian craft, including one Premax 39 multirole fast combat boat built in Serbia by Serbian defence contractor Yugoimport SPDR. Of the flotilla's core vessels, several are routinely out of service for maintenance at any one time, while a single patrol vessel dating from the 1950s, RPB-111 Jadar, is laid up awaiting disposal.

In October 2013, a four-year general overhaul and modification of the flotilla's headquarters ship, BPN-30 "Kozara”, was completed at Apatin shipyard with the addition of new diesel-electric propulsion, giving the River Flotilla functional capabilities of a hospital ship and navigation and shipping training ship for Serbian cadets attending the Serbian Military Academy. In July 2017, the "Kozara" sailed from Novi Sad to Hungary in the first international voyage of a Serbian military ship since 1915.

In 2017, China donated 24 RIB-720 boats equipped with 150 hp Yamaha outboard motors to Serbia to help with flood relief activities. Of these, 10 boats were allocated to the River Flotilla by the Serbian Government.

The Serbian Army on 21 June 2017 received military equipment worth around 900,000 euros (1 million US dollars) donated by China. A total of 16 rubber boats with outboard engines, five snowmobiles and 10 portable devices for detecting explosives and narcotics were donated to the Serbian army at the military barracks in Pancevo. Attending the ceremony were Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Defense Minister Zoran Djordjevic and Chinese ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang, as well as army officials, officers and soldiers. Ambassador Li said the new donation was an expression of friendship between Chinese and Serbian armies and that Chinese people would always remember that the Serbian army appeared as a participant two years ago at a grand parade in Beijing.

According to the minister of defence, and in line with the order of the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces Aleksandar Vucic, all the branches and arms of the armed forces have to be enhanced, modernised and they have to be able to discharge all their tasks. "That is precisely why our River Flotilla as well is in the phase of modernisation and further improvement and I am pleased to say that this has been the greatest modernisation of the River Flotilla in the last 25 years. We have enabled that four of our minesweepers are modernised to significantly higher level, and equipped with new weapons, new fire management systems, new radar systems and everything else that makes them modern and capable of executing their tasks. Every part of our territory has to be and is protected by the Serbian Armed Forces and every asset of ours has to be ready to respond to challenges in front of us" stated Minister Vulin 13 May 2018.

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Page last modified: 30-08-2021 18:17:00 ZULU