Rafale in Serbia: a strategic and historic contract for France and Dassault within 2 months

Will Serbia be the eighth export client of the Rafale from Dassault Aviation? In any case, this is what emerges from the recent statements of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, on the occasion of President Macron's official visit to Belgrade at the beginning of the week.

According to the Serbian head of state, his country will sign, within two months, a firm order for 12 aircraft Rafale, certainly to the F4 standard, and this, in the presence of the French president.

Although it is obviously necessary to maintain a certain reserve, as long as the official order has not been signed and the deposit paid, especially with regard to a country like Serbia, still engaged in territorial claims and tensions with its neighbors, and more especially, with Kosovo, never the negotiations between Paris and Belgrade, started several years ago, will have been this close to success.

To avoid having to add "If the order was signed" to each paragraph, and the generalized use of the conditional, we will consider, in what follows, that President Vucic's statements are sufficient to consider the future order of 12 Rafale for the Serbian Air Forces, as valid, if not yet official, while keeping in mind the previously established reservations.

A strategic shift of Serbia towards the European Union, at the expense of Russia

This order will mark a very profound shift in Belgrade towards the European Union. Traditionally, Serbia was, in fact, close to Moscow, and it primarily equipped itself with Russian equipment and aircraft in the past.

Mig-29 Serbian
There remain 14 Mig-29s in service with the Serbian Air Force. These aircraft have only been slightly modernized, and cannot effectively oppose modern fighters.

Until recently, only a few years ago, they received second-hand MIG-29s from the Russian air forces, partly to replace the aircraft lost during the Kosovo war in 1999 against the forces of the Russian Federation. NATO, as well as Mi-35 combat and MI-17 maneuver helicopters, and a Pantsir M1 anti-aircraft battery.

However, part of these orders was postponed, after Russia was put under sanction by the West, and more specifically by the United States in 2019, through the CAATSA law.

Since then, Belgrade has turned to Beijing for certain military acquisitions, notably 4 medium and long range air defense batteries HQ-22, an unknown number of HQ-17 short-range batteries, and CH-92 and CH-95 combat drones.

Serbia has also turned much more massively towards Europe in this area, with the order of H145M light helicopters, C-295 transport planes, as well as GroundMaster 200 and 400 radars, and Mistral 3 short-range surface-to-air missiles.

In this context, the order for 12 aircraft Rafale from France, valued at around €3 billion with parts, ammunition and training included, constitutes the largest arms import contract signed by Belgrade in the last 30 years, as well as a profound shift towards Europe, then that the country has obtained candidate status for the European Union since 2012.

The role of France as a security pivot in the Balkans

If this order considerably strengthens the chances of Serbia joining, in the more or less short term, the EU, it also gives France a central role in controlling tensions in the Balkanss.

CH-92 Serbia
Serbian Air Forces use Chinese CH-92 combat drones.

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2 Comments

  1. I hope they are well aware that Russian propaganda has completely corrupted this country…..selling rafaleSerbia means condemning Bosnia in the short term and giving one to the Russians…..
    Really not a good idea 🙁

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