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 Batajnica Serbia September 2012

We visited  Batajnica airbase for the he Serbian air forceís centennial air show.

Held at Batajnica air base near Belgrade on 2 September, the Serbian air forceís centennial air show attracted visiting aircraft from Russia and the Italian and US air forces, along with flight demonstrations involving the host nationís assets.

Highlights included a formation of the Serbian air forceís displaying most off its assets, a tactical demonstration involving four Soko J-22 Oraos and six Soko G-4 Super Galebs, and a mock dogfight involving two MiG-29s and a MiG-21, along with solo displays from the visiting air forces.

While the 100 years of Serbian military aviation air show was held on September 2nd, 2012 at Batajnica airfield near Belgrade, Serbia. We had planed a three day trip with the first day spend outside the air field for the arrivals . The second day for the media day end the last day for the the air show it self.



The first day,

As we had planned to be at Batajnica for the arrivals on Friday and it was not certain wich runway would be in use we left early for Batajnica. Arriving at 8:30  we where just in time to witness the rehearsal of the planed mass fly by and demos of the Serbian Air Force as this all happened before 10:00.

This one and a half our gave us the opportunity to picture most of the active types from the Serbian Air Force with the exception of the An-2 and An-26.

The rest of the day was spend in the landing for the arrival of the other participants of the air show. It was strange to see the locals entering the base to have a better view of the planes landing and performing there practise displays.

On the end of the day there was the rehearsal of the Russian Air Force aerobatic team the Swifts. The team flew with only three MiG-29s, one of them a MiG-29UB. Normally the team flies with four aircraft, but the Swifts commander Valery Morozov was discharge on 30 August by The Russian Minister of Defence.




The Media day

On Saturday we went to the media day for clean shots of the static and the planned rehearsals. Unfortunately for the media representatives, the air show organizers decide to allow public on base this day before most of the press was allowed on base.

Giving some challenging conditions on the static and for the rest not much was organized. There was no real flying program on the press day, just a few displays and that was it. The runway itself was distant anyway, and there was a 2-meter high fence between the public and the runway.
This posed a challenge for photographers as Serbian displays often perform extreme low-level fly passes.

The static line-up included all types currently in service with the Serbian air force, and was
therefore a real treat for foreign visitors.

It was still a enjoyable day even with the circumstances not being as we hoped. At the end of the day most participants on the static where pictured without public, and it is always nice to see a group of photographers battle ling it out for the best spots.



 The Air show

The Serbian air force has plenty of exotic aircraft in its inventory. Aircraft type's like the Super Galeb Utva 75, Lasta and Orao are not seen anywhere else in Europe for instance. And other more known types of the Serbian Air force like the Gazelle and Mig's 21 and 29 have never come to a air show outside Serbia.

Batajnica still bears the scars from the intensive NATO bombing campaign in 1999, but NATO aircraft were still more than welcome on the tarmac there, the USAFKC-135 being the biggest by far. Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and Denmark participated in the flying displays while Bulgaria, Turkey, France and Romania only participated in the static display.

It was strange to see the former adversaries in 1999's Allied Force conflict lined up side by side on the static in the form of a a USAF F-16C from Aviano AFB. In the museum nearby the remains of a other F-16 from Aviano can be found that was downed during the conflict.

One of the hangars was dedicated to the Serbian aviation industry which is rebuilding after the conflict and gaining some commercial foreign sales in recent years with sales of its latest trainer to Iraq.

Batajnica was not the biggest air show in 2012, but the organizers had clearly made every effort to make it a memorable show, and showing the Serbian Aviation in total to the visitors



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