Serbia Air Force
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Air Force

Soko J-22 Orao of 252 sqn in September 1998.
(photo, © Salinger Igor 1998)

Current Title: Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo i Protiv Vazdusna Odbrana
Title in English: Air Force and Air Defence Force
Abbreviation: RViPVO


Narrative Summary:

Narrative history of the Yugoslav Air Force

Key Dates:
5 January 1945    JRV officially established
12 September 1945    Military Aviation Academy established
late 1945    VSJ (Aeronautical Union of Yugoslavia) officially established
late 1947    JRV strength reaches 40 squadrons of aircraft
March 1948    First radar company established
23 May 1948    First Paratrooper course started
June 1948    Break-up with Stalinist USSR causes a rapid fall in aircraft serviceability
1950    Air Force Technical School formed at Zemun
21 May 1951    First S-49A fighter officially delivered
October 1951    First Mosquito aircraft delivered from UK
14 November 1951    Mutual Assistance Pact signed with UK and USA
1952    First aircraft from USA (P-47 Thunderbolt) delivered
October 1952    First indigenously produced jet, the Ikarus 451M flew
10 March 1953    First jet aircraft (T-33A) arrives at Batajnica
1954    First helicopters (Westland Dragonfly) delivered
1956    Tito resumes relations with new Soviet leader Krushchev
July 1959    AF and AD units from army united to form Air Force and Air defence - JRV renamed RViPVO
September 1962    First MiG-21F-13 fighters delivered
1962    S-75 DVINA (SA-2) anti-aircraft missile system put into operational service
1986    RViPVO organised into three regional Corps
June 1991    Attack and transport missions in support of Federal forces in Slovenia. RViPVO later withdraws from Slovenia.
August 1991    Military campaign against Croatian forces starts
3 January 1992    Truce with Croatia comes into effect
March 1992    Start of conflict in Bosnia and Hercegovina
19 May 1992    Yugoslav forces ordered to withdraw from Bosnia, Hercegovina and Croatia
May 1992    Formation of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Air Force and Air Defence
June-Sept 1992    RViPVO re-organised into two specialised Corps
June 1998    Exercise Determined Falcon appears to threaten NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia
4 October 1998    RViPVO ordered to prepare for war
15 February 1999    RViPVO again ordered to prepare for war
24 March 1999    NATO forces launch air attacks on Yugoslavia under Operation Allied Force
26 March 1999    F-117A stealth aircraft shot down by anti-aircraft missile
12 June 1999    Peace agreement signed
11 May 2000    Ladjevci air base reopens for use
27 February 2002    RViPVO command HQ disbanded - air force corps report directly to the Joint General Staff
December 2002    RViPVO modernisation plan published
January 2003    Yugoslav Army (VJ) becomes Army of Serbia and Montenegro (VSiCG)
June 2006    Independence of Montenegro sees forces withdraw to Serbia

Current Status:
The RViPVO is still recovering from the damage inflicted during the Kosovo War of March-June 1999. Much of the infrastructure had been severely damaged, with all hangars and three-quarters of the maintenance workshops destroyed. Many radar and SAM stations were hit and numerous aircraft destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
The initial post-war focus was on restoring the runways and basic facilities at the main airfields.
The armed forces have been heavily hit by budget cuts, which have severely limited re-equipment plans and caused a shortage of aviation fuel. Lack of funds has forced the air force to sell off the utility variant of the Gazelle helicopter to private owners. Aircraft serviceability is reported to be poor, with talk of the MiG-29s being withdrawn due to their poor condition and lack of spares.

Future Plans:
Reorganise and retrain air force to operate to NATO standards.
Participate in Partnership for Peace Programme.
Obtain new basic training aircraft to come in-between UTVA-75 and G-4 Super Galeb in pilot training sequence.
Lease of a squadron of modern multi-role fighters to replace MiG-29 and MiG-21. Some report that the F-16A/B or JAS-39 Gripen are favourites - others that an order for 30-35 Sukhoi Su-30MK is more likely.
Requip 677.trae with new transport aircraft.
Obtain new transport helicopters to partially replace Mi-8T.


National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
In 1946 a new aircraft serial numbering system was introduced. This consisted of a four-digit number, e.g. 7451, with the first number indicating the primary role of the aircraft. The serial ranges used were:

0001 - 2000    Training aircraft
2001 - 4000    Fighter aircraft
4001 - 6000    Assault aircraft
6001 - 7000    Bomber aircraft
7001 - 9000    Transport aircraft
9001 - 9999    Captured German/Italian aircraft

In the 1950s a new five digit serialling system was introduced. This occurred around the time of the first delivery of the P-47 and F-84 aircraft. The role batch assignments were abandoned and replaced by a simpler numerical sequence, e.g. 12262. Black-out blocks were included, where some numbers within a batch were not used. The prevented spies calculating the total number procured of a specific aircraft type, from using the highest and lowest observed serial numbers. Some batches of MiG-21s and the MiG-29 use the numerical part of their type designator, eg. L-18 for the MiG-29, as the first two digits in the serial number, e.g. 18106.

A listing of known JRV serial numbers can be found here: Evidencioni brojevi vazduhoplova u YU RV I PVO

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
None used.


Aircraft Designation System(s):
Aircraft Type Designation System.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order --- Chronological Order

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service

Aircraft Losses and Incidents:
Aircraft Accidents 1947-present

Aircraft Accidents 1992-2000


Main Headquarters:
Zemun, Glavna ulica, br. 30 (Previously: Zemun, Ulica Maršala Tita, br. 30)

Current Organisational Structure:
The RV i PVO is divided into two corps - an Air Defence Corps (Korpus PVO - including interceptors, SAM, AA artillery and radars) and an Air Force Corps (Vazduhoplovni Korpus - including fighters, transports, helicopters etc). Each corps is organised Soviet-style, into Aviation Regiments (Avijacijski Puk) or Aviation Brigades (Avijacijska Brigada) with between two and four Squadrons (Eskadrila) each. In the last couple of years, the Squadrons have gained individual nicknames.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
Table of Orders of Battle

All-Time Flying Units List:
List of units.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
The Serbian Air Force currently operates from five main bases. There are also four reserve air bases which have no permanently assigned aircraft. See listing below for details.

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
Many of the bases formerly used by the Yugoslav/Serbian Air Force are now located in the constituent Republics which broke away 1991-1992, and are therefore no longer available for use. Apart from the main military air bases, there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are sometimes used by the Air Force.
Military Air Bases Listing

More Information


Serbian Aviation Bibliography - to be added


World Air Power Journal No.5 p.156-157
Air Forces Monthly August 1994
International Air Power Review Volume 9


Vojska Jugoslavije - Aviation
(Official Yugoslav Air Force web page)

Yugoslav Air Force - information disclaimer (Admition of false information on Yugoslav Air Force history)

YuAirWar - History of ex-Yugoslav Air Wars
(Air forces of Yugoslavia and the break-away republics since WW2. Aircraft, units, bases etc)

Air Force - Serbia
(Current status, inventory and orbat of the Air Force)
(Serbian & Yugoslav Air Forces, history of aviation, photo gallery, history maps, Yugoslav aviation during WW II, etc.)

Yugoslav Air Force Discussion Group
(YASIG - Yugoslav Aviation Special Interest Group bulletin board)

Dragan's Aviation Corner
(Lots of info on Yugoslav military aviation)

(Yugoslav aviation books and CD-ROMS for sale from YASIG)

Yugoslav Patches
(Photos of Air Force unit patches)

Air Force and Air Defense
(RViPVO information and links)

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First Created: 12 February 2003 - Last Revised: 2 July 2006
Copyright © 2003 John Hayles.    e-mail: