On 22nd April 2023, more than 45,500 visitors arrived to ´Colonel-Pilot Milenko Pavlović´ air base in Batajnica, in the vicinity of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. And the reason the international crowd was attracted there, was the open doors day held at the airfield and being an official demonstration of capabilities of the Serbian Armed Forces, codenamed ´Granite 2023´ (Гранит 2023).
According to official information released by the Serbian Ministry of Defence, more than 5,000 Serbian military personnel participated in static and dynamic displays held in Batajnica last Saturday. They presented to general public approximately 2,300 examples of military equipment, including sixty aircraft.
The Serbian Air Force and Air Defence (Ратно ваздухопловство и противваздухопловна одбрана Војске Србије) presented a broad range of their aircraft fleet that included MiG-29 fighters, SOKO Orao ground-attack aircraft, UTVA 75 and UTVA Lasta 95 military trainers, as well as Mi-35, Mi-17 and H-145 helicopters.
Apart from the aircraft, the visitors to Batajnica were able to see also anti-aircraft and anti-tank missile systems, self-propelled artillery, tanks and armoured vehicles, as well as small arms and personal military equipment.
Programme of dynamic displays at Batajnica was opened by a parachute demonstration performed by personnel of the 63rd Parachute Brigade. The parachutists jumped from H-145M helicopters and, while descending, they carried national flag of the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Air Force banner.
A display showing an anti-terrorist operation made a reason for the joint helicopter operation, performed by the Mi-35 attack helicopters and the 72nd Special Operations Brigade that arrived to the scene with Mi-8 and Mi-17 rotorcraft. In addition, the special troops assault was also supported by a formation of the MiG-29 fighters that secured air supremacy over the area of operation.
Another counter terrorist display was then performed by team of the Detachment of the Military Police for Special Operations ´Cobras´ (Одред војне полиције специјалне намене ´Кобре´) that solved a hostage crisis at the apron of Batajnica airfield.
The flying display programme followed with joint display of SOKO Orao and Super Galeb aeroplanes, another demonstration of the rotorcraft capabilities that included evacuation of the special forces team, as well as presentation of the air-defence systems and their cooperation with the MiG-29 fighters.
The flying demonstrations were concluded with joint flypast of various aircraft of the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence inventory – the MiG-29, Orao, Super Galeb, UTVA 75 and UTVA Lasta 95 aeroplanes, followed by the Mi-35, Mi-8, Gazelle and GAMA, H-145M and Mi-17 helicopters.
The open day at Batajnica was also an opportunity for the first public presentation of the expected new acquirement of the Serbian Air Force – a CH-95 Chinese UCAV, mock-up of which was displayed during the event.
The Saturday´s event at ´Colonel-Pilot Milenko Pavlović´ air base was also visited by the highest Serbian authorities, including President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević and Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces General Milan Mojsilović. In addition, Granite 2023 was also visited by high-ranked officials of neighbouring countries – Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, Chairwoman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željka Cvijanović, President of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik and Hungarian Minister of Defence Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky.
All photos © Министарство одбране Републике Србије / MoD Republic of Serbia. MoD press releases were used.