On October 10, the armed forces of the Republic of Serbia held a one-day exercise Sadezhstvo 2020. In the course of these maneuvers, units of the ground forces and the air force demonstrated the fight against a simulated enemy, showing their skills and level of possession of modern weapons and equipment. The exercises were highly appreciated by the military and political leadership of the country.
Forces and tasks
The exercises “Sadezhstvo 2020” (“Cooperation 2020”) were held at the “Peshter” training ground. Approx. 2,800 military personnel of all branches of the army from the ground forces and the air force. Approx. 150 units of military and auxiliary equipment, as well as 40 aircraft and helicopters.
All current models of weapons and military equipment of local and foreign production were presented at the maneuvers. The Ministry of Defense of Serbia notes that over the past three years, 20 new models for various purposes have been adopted by the army, and some of them are used for the first time in major maneuvers. It is very noteworthy that along with other products, the products of the Russian defense industry were also actively used.
According to the legend of the exercises, the Republic of Serbia was subjected to the aggression of a conditional enemy. The enemy army has occupied part of the territory of the state and is waiting for reinforcements for the further development of the offensive. The task of the Serbian army was to repel the attack, contain the enemy and further destroy and drive out foreign forces by all available means. This scenario was divided into seven main episodes.
Cooperation 2020 is of great importance for the armed forces of Serbia, and therefore the military and political leadership of the country was present at the exercises. As a result of the main events of the maneuvers, President Aleksandar Vucic remarked: “It looks like a serious army.”
The first episode of the exercises included measures to protect their troops from an air attack, destroy enemy aircraft and gain air superiority. For the detection of targets imitating enemy aircraft, the calculations of the Giraffe radar were responsible. Fire damage was provided by the Pantsir and Kub complexes of Russian production, as well as the Serbian PASARS-16.
Having inflicted a defeat on the air force of the mock enemy, the Serbian army conducted reconnaissance of his ground forces. From the air, data were collected by UAVs CH-92, “Vrabats” and AP 100-C. Ground reconnaissance was provided by armored vehicles BRDM-2MS and BOV KIV, as well as two pairs of snipers.
In the third episode of the exercises, the Serbian Air Force struck at the troops of the mock enemy. Fighter-bombers J-22 “Orao” worked on targets, and the MiG-29 covered them. With the use of cannons, unguided missiles and aerial bombs, the aviation knocked out a significant part of the enemy’s ground grouping.
In the next episode, the artillery batteries began preparing for the offensive of the main group of forces. The mock enemy was attacked by crews of mortars of caliber from 81 to 120 mm, self-propelled howitzers “Gvozdika” and “NORA-B52”, as well as multiple launch rocket systems of various calibers. The joint work of different means for common purposes was ensured by modern artillery fire control systems.
The fifth episode of the exercise involved new air strikes. They were attended by MiG-29 fighters and G-4 “Super Galeb” combat training aircraft. It is noted that the MiG-29 for the first time in the past 20 years used unguided air-to-ground missiles in exercises. Then, helicopters of various types appeared over the battlefield. Mi-35 used guided missiles “Attack” and worked on enemy equipment, and Mi-17V5 with unguided missiles hit other targets.
Only in the sixth episode, the main ground grouping, uniting tank and motorized rifle units, went into battle. The main striking force of the troops at this stage was the Serbian-made M-84 and M-84AS1 tanks. The infantry used BMP M-80 and armored personnel carriers “Lazar-3”. Support was provided by the POLO M-83 self-propelled anti-tank missile systems. In the combat formations of the ground grouping, there were military air defense systems, which had already shown their capabilities at the beginning of the exercises.
At the last stage of the maneuvers, the airborne units showed themselves. An-26 military transport aircraft threw 30 paratroopers from the 63rd parachute brigade. Helicopters of several types delivered fighters of the 72nd Special Purpose Brigade to the battlefield and landed them. At the same time, a column of the 72nd brigade on armored cars “Milos” was breaking through to the landing site.
Joint actions of the landing force and ground forces led to the final destruction of the mock enemy grouping. The combat missions were successfully completed. The end of the maneuvers was marked by a demonstration jump of the paratroopers of the 63rd Brigade – they carried the flags of the state and the armed forces.
Results and conclusions
According to the Serbian Ministry of Defense, the Sadezhstvo 2020 exercise showed some of the capabilities of the armed forces, incl. with the interaction of different types of troops. They have successfully demonstrated how the army can fight air strikes, conduct reconnaissance, and attack the enemy with all available means – from small arms to aircraft missiles.
In recent years, Serbia has been paying attention to the development of the armed forces, incl. by purchasing or creating and producing new types of weapons and equipment. A number of newly created or acquired systems and complexes for the first time took part in major maneuvers and confirmed their combat qualities in a real situation. This is not just about weapons. The reconnaissance, communications and command and control systems, capable of making a decisive contribution to the results of combat work, were tested.
Apparently, the command of the Serbian army is already analyzing the results of the recent exercises. Based on the results of such a study, deeper conclusions will be drawn, on the basis of which new plans for the development and construction of the armed forces will be built. Thus, a one-day event can lay the foundation for multi-year programs.
Army today and tomorrow
It should be recalled that the Serbian armed forces are not distinguished by their large size or great potential. Less than 30 thousand people serve in them. The General Staff is subordinate to the ground forces, the air force and air defense forces, the training command, as well as a number of separate auxiliary units.
The qualitative and quantitative level of the armed forces cannot be considered high either. In service there is approx. 200 tanks and hundreds of armored vehicles for various purposes. The total number of aircraft and helicopters of the Air Force does not exceed several dozen, and the age of the equipment is generally poor.
However, in recent years, measures have been taken to develop the armed forces. Modernization of tanks and other armored vehicles has been launched, modern military air defense equipment is being purchased, such as the Russian Pantsir air defense missile system. Its own industry is trying to create new samples of different classes, and some of them go into series and end up in the troops.
Thus, the Serbian armed forces cannot claim leadership in Europe by all the main indicators. At the same time, they are not inferior to other armies of their region and, in general, are able to solve the assigned tasks to protect the country from external aggression. The recent Sadezhstvo 2020 exercise shows how the army intends to respond to an attack and what it can counter the enemy.