Serbian P-12 (NATO designation: Spoon Rest)
A-band early warning radar seen at Batajnica airfield on April 26th, 2007(photo: Slobodan Mihajlović)
250th Air Defence Missile Brigade
On April 26th, on the territory of military airfield Batajnica, some 20 km north-west of Belgrade, Serbian Ministry of Defence organized a ceremony to mark what was officially described as "establishing" of already 45-years old 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade (250. raketna brigada protivvazduhoplovne odbrane, 250.rbr PVO). In fact, the ceremony marked integration into the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade of all Serbian Army units equipped with medium-level air defence rocket systems and expanding that unit task from the defence of capital Belgrade to defence of the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia. Under the new organization, the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade of the Air Force and Air Defence Force (Vazduhoplovstvo i Protivvazduhoplovna Odbrana - V i PVO) of the Serbian Army (Vojska Srbije) is made up of five rocket battalions - two of them armed with S-125M Neva-M (NATO designation: SA-3 Goa) and three armed with 2K12M Kub-M (NATO designation: SA-6 Gainful) rocket systems. In line with its new task, the defence of the entire Serbian sky, the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade will keep its subordinated units deployed all over the country, with two Neva-M battalions deployed around Belgrade, and three Kub-M battalions deployed near the towns of Niš, Novi Sad and Kragujevac.
The recent integration of all Serbian Army Kub-M systems within the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade marked the end of the existence of other three Serbian air defence units: the 230th Self-Propelled Air Defence Missile Regiment (230. samohodni raketni puk protivvazduhoplovne odbrane, 230. srp PVO) based in the town of Niš, the 240th Self-Propelled Air Defence Missile Regiment (240. srp PVO) based in the town of Novi Sad and the 310th Self-Propelled Air Defence Missile Regimen (310. srp PVO) based in the town of Kragujevac. Previously, in 2004, Serbian-Montenegrin Armed Forces disbanded another Kub-M unit - the 60th Self-Propelled Air Defence Missile Regiment (60. srp PVO) based in the town of Danilovgrad and responsible for the defence of Montenegrin capital Podgorica. The 60th Self-Propelled Air Defence Missile Regiment was created in Zadar, Croatia, on October 8th, 1975, and remained on the territory of that republic until 1992 when following Croatian declaration for independence from the rest of Yugoslavia has been transferred to neighboring Montenegro. The unit remained active in Montenegro until the end of 2004 when it was disbanded and its equipment and personnel transferred to Serbia.
The 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade history goes back to November 25th, 1962, when 250th Air Defence Missile Regiment (250. raketni puk PVO, 250. rp PVO) has been established in Belgrade with single task to defend that city, at that time capital of Communist-controlled Yugoslavia. Between 1962 and 1980, the 250th Air Defence Missile Regiment was armed with S-75 Dvina (NATO designation: SA-2 Guideline) high-level air defence system and its structure was composed of four rocket and one rocket-technical battalions. The 250th Air Defence Missile Regiment changed its name into 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade in 1980 as a result of its expansion with four rocket and one rocket-technical battalions of the S-125M Neva-M (SA-3 Goa) medium-level air defence system. The next evolution in the structure of the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade took place in 1992 when that unit acquired in its structure the 350th Air Defence Missile Regiment (350. raketni puk PVO, 350. rp PVO) that being armed with S-125M Neva-M has been pulled off from Slovenia following that country declaration for independence from the rest of Yugoslavia. This change has finally initiated the long-waited retirement of Dvina rocket system from the structure of the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade. That way, by the time Yugoslavia came under NATO attack named "Operation Allied Force" in 1999, the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade was armed only with Neva-M medium-level air defence system. During the war of 1999, the unit managed to down two USAF jet planes, a stealth F-117A Night Hawk and an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, as well as a dozen of cruise missiles. However, the US-led coalition strike back as a result of what nine members of the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade have lay down their lives for the defense of Belgrade. The last significant moment in the history of the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade took place in October 2004 when Neva-M armed 450th Air Defence Missile Regiment (450. raketni puk PVO, 450. rp PVO) ceased to exist after it was previously transferred from the town of Kraljevo (where it was deployed for 12 years after being pulled off from Macedonia in 1992) in the Belgrade area were it was integrated in the structure of the 250th Air Defence Missile Brigade.
As part of the ongoing reorganization process compiled in line with Serbia's first Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and other related doctrines, the Air Force and Air Defence Force is scheduled to completely change its structure by the end of 2007. Under the new structure, the Air Force will completely adopt air base structure and will continue operating from three strategically located airfields in Serbia, those being: Batajnica, near Belgrade; Ladjevci, near the town of Kraljevo; and Constantine the Great Airport, located in the town of Niš. The first step toward the establishing of modern model of organization of the Air Force has been made on November 15th, 2006, when 204th Air Base (204. avijacijska baza, 204. ab) was established at Batajnica. The new unit has been created by merging a number of air force, air defence force, as well as technical and logistical support units already based at Batajnica. By June 2007 another new unit, designated 98. Air Base (98. avijacijska baza, 98. ab) will also be formed in Ladjevci. However, unlike at Batajnica, the 98. Air Base will put under its command not only units deployed at Ladjevci but also those that will remain based at Niš airfield.
Finally, as part of the ongoing reorganization of Serbian Air Defence Force the 126th Air Reconnaissance Monitoring and Guidance Brigade (126. brigada VOJIN) will soon change its name into 126th Air Reconnaissance Monitoring and Guidance Center (126. center VOJIN). The 126th Air Reconnaissance Monitoring and Guidance Brigade is currently equipped with tube technology, transistor technology as well as first-generation integrated technology radar systems. According to Serbia's first Strategic Defence Review the basic radars in use with the 126th Air Reconnaissance Monitoring and Guidance Brigade are P-12, P-14, P-15, P-18, P-40, RL-128, PRV-11, PRV-16/9, S600, AN/TPS-63, AN/TPS-70 and M85 Žirafa.