´Momentary Response 2021´- Serbian largest military exercise over the years

More than 15,000 of military personnel involved, eight training grounds thorough the country and a series of live-fire training activities held in the second part of June 2021 – that was a large-scale exercise of the Serbian armed forces, codenamed ´Momentary Response 2021´ (Муњевити удар 2021, sometimes also translated as ´Momentary Strike´).

Officially launched on 15th June 2021, ´Momentary Response 2021´ was, as the Serbian MoD emphasized, the largest joint combat exercise held in Serbia for several decades. It involved the entire organization structure of the Serbian armed forces – the army, the air force and air defence, special operation units, airborne troops, military police and the River Flotilla.

After almost two weeks of extensive specialized trainings, ´Momentary Response 2021´ was then concluded on 27th June by a joint tactical exercise organized at ´Pešter´ training area.

According to information released by the Serbian MoD, more than 2,300 of military personnel participated in that final stage of ´Momentary Response 2021´, including the army units, the Air Force and Air Defence, the 72nd Special Operations Brigade and the 63rd Parachute Brigade.

The live-fire exercise was held under a scenario defined as ´Reinforced tactical group in execution of an assault operation´. It was divided in three phases that together have created a complex process of destroying a mock-enemy and capturing its positions. An interesting fact is that the training at ´Pešter´ grounds was being broadcasted live by the First Channel of the RTS (Radio Television of Serbia), therefore being available for all citizens of the country.

The Serbian Air Force and Air Defence (Ратно ваздухопловство и противваздухопловна одбрана Војске Србије) participated in the ´Momentary Response 2021´ exercise with almost all operationally active aircraft of its inventory. Fighters, attack aeroplanes, helicopters and transport aviation operated from their home air bases: ´Colonel Pilot Milenko Pavlović´ (Batajnica) and ´Morava´ (Lađevci) in Kraljevo.

In the heat of battle – Momentary Response 2021

Regarding the last stage of the exercise, the Serbian Air Force involvement was divided in several consecutive phases. At first, two types of UAVs performed an aerial reconnaissance of mock-enemy positions. For this purpose not only the CH-92A unmanned combat aerial vehicles of Chinese origin were used but also the domestically-manufactured Sparrow (Врабац) mini tactical UAV.

Fighter aviation was assigned the task of securing the air space and providing support for attack aircraft. Therefore a formation of eleven MiG-29 jets from Batajnica was the next to appear over ´Pešter´ training ground. It is to be noted that for the first time such a large number of MiG-29 fighters was participating in Serbian military exercise – and it already included the aircraft recently delivered from Belarus. Acting on the orders of Exercise Commander, eight MiG-29s additionally engaged targets on the ground and fired air-to-surface missiles on facilities of the mock-enemy.

The stage that followed was a low-level attack performed by close air support aircraft. A total of nine J-22 ´Orao´ and four G-4 ´Super Galeb´ aeroplanes were involved in this phase. It is noteworthy that, for the first time since many years, the J-22 attack aircraft fired their AGM-65 Maverick guided missiles during a training activity.

Shortly thereafter, a telecommunication centre of the mock-enemy was located. The task of destroying it was assigned to Mi-35 helicopters. They have performed a quick strike on the abovementioned facilities, using both ´Ataka´ guided missiles and S-8 rockets.

In the next wave, Mi-17 and H-145 rotorcraft appeared over the training ground, tasked with destroying enemy vehicles and other equipment. They were supported by ´Gamas´ – an anti-tank variant of SOKO Gazelle helicopter – that engaged armoured targets and destroyed them with ´Malutka´ guided missiles. It is well worth explaining that the name of that anti-tank variant comes from merging together two words: GAzelle and MAlutka.

In order to prevent the mock-enemy from using any reinforcement forces, a parachute company was called in. Paratroopers from the 63rd Brigade reached the operation area by jumping from An-26 transport aeroplane and being carried directly to the spot with Mi-17 and H-145M rotorcraft.  

63rd Brigade enters the battle – Momentary Response 2021

The Serbian air defence units participated in the ´Momentary Response 2021´ exercise with their latest equipment – a domestically-manufactured PASARS-16 mobile hybrid short range anti-aircraft system and ´Pantsir´ missile system, supported by ´Igla´ and ´Strela´ MANPADS.

A special task was assigned to N-62T ´Super Galeb´ aeroplane that was used as a target tug. That aircraft flew over the area with ´Rukavac´ flying target that was fired upon by 40mm anti-aircraft cannons of the ‘PASARS-16´ unit.  

The training activities at ´Pešter´ training ground were attended by the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović, Chief of General Staff General Milan Mojsilović, Army Commander Lieutenant General Milosav Simović, Air Force and Air Defence Commander Lieutenant General Duško Žarković, as well as KFOR Commander Major General Franco Federici.

The end of the training activities on 27th June was marked by a parachute jump performed by the 63rd Parachute Brigade soldiers, who unfurled flags of the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Armed Forces.

The ´Momentary Response 2021´ exercise was officially concluded by an open door event organized on 28th June at Kragujevac. Similarly to the training day at ´Pešter´, it was attended by the high military and state authorities of Serbia.

At static display organized during the open day, there was M84-AS1 and T-72MS tanks, ´Miloš´ and BRDM-2MS armoured vehicles, ´Pantsir´ anti-aircraft system and helicopters – H-145M, Mi-17B5 and Mi-35M. In addition, next to other Serbian-manufactured UAVs, also a kamikaze-drone ´Raven´ (Гавран) was exhibited there – which was its premiere at the open public event.

During a speech in Kragujevac, Aleksandar Vučić announced that Serbian armed forces inventory is going to be doubled until 2022.

´Gama´ on the hunt – Momentary Response 2021

All photos © Министарство одбране Републике Србије / MoD Republic of Serbia. MoD press releases were used. Cover photo – Mi-35M, Serbian Air Force (Momentary Response 2021)