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Interview

Magazine Odbrana, issue 95 as of 1 September 2009


State Secretary of the Ministry of Defense Zoran Jeftic, PhD

A CHALLENGE OUR AIR FORCE JUST NEEDS

 

This great international air show is a very complex event, which required a complete revitalization of Batajnica airfield, which will be our legacy, the benefits of the international cooperation are immeasurable, yet we should not forget that such a large-scale air show with such a large number of referential participants and viewers-and all this will prove to be an additional challenge and an encouragement our air force just needs.

The final preparations for the upcoming Batajnica 2009 air show are afoot which involve large scale organizational and infrastructure works. The Ministry of Defense is the main organizer of the air show, which is to be held on 13 September. In an interview with the State Secretary Zoran Jeftic, the Chairman of the MoD executive board for preparing the air show. Our key questions are the objectives, the course of preparations, the importance of this air show for our country, the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces, whom to expect of the guests, the costs of organization, and the new prospects of this air show.

 

We know that this has been a very difficult year, we have also been hit by the world economic crisis, so it would be most interesting to hear how the main idea of the international air show progressed, what goals are envisioned by the idea, and how the preparations are going just before the start?

The upcoming air show is another part and a logical result of the general reform of the defense system we have been conducting in the last few years. In line with this, we made all the efforts to boost Air Force capacities by increasing the number of flights and repairing aircrafts and air force technique and the realization of other similar tasks, which would revive this very important branch of the Serbian military. The international military setting had demonstrated interest for this event to be organized in Serbia.  It should, however, be noted that such an event had not been organized for 11 years or so. The idea is to make this a sort of a groundbreaking event, a “zero air show” as a precursor of the air show we are planning for 2012, when we will be celebrating a centennial of our aviation. 

This air show is a complex event, which entails numerous infrastructure works, the revitalization of the air field, of airstrips, of the flight control tower, as well as the technical and logistic equipping for the reception of old domestic and foreign aircrafts in line with top European standards, which are applied to such events. All these activities go well beyond MoD’s financial capabilities which is why other state capacities should be involved too.

Another thing which should be noted is that this air show is that since 1999, this is the first serious infrastructural revitalization on Batajnica airfield. It includes complete renovation of airstrips, which have been in use all this time, yet have also blocked proper use of the airport. The project envisions bringing back to life the flight control tower which was destroyed in 1999, so the Flight Control Agency did us a favour and provided support for building and renovation of certain facilities.

Such an important air show entails serious and very comprehensive organizational preparations, where certain segments of the air force, of SAF GS and MoD are involved too. We expect some 100 participants in dynamic and static part of the show, 15 countries have so far confirmed their participation, 26 aircrafts will show their capabilities, which makes this air show a spectacle never to have been seen before in the Balkans. Furthermore, almost all our aircraft organizations, associations, air clubs and parachutist clubs as well as commercial aviation have confirmed their participation , while our air force will demonstrate all their flight capacities along with an attractive flight program.

This great international air show is a very complex event, which required a complete revitalization of Batajnica airfield, which will be our legacy, the benefits of the international cooperation are immeasurable, yet we should not forget that such a large-scale air show with such a large number of referential participants and viewers-and all this will prove to be an additional challenge and an encouragement our air force just needs.

As for our pilots, this will be another motivation and an opportunity to put to test their strengths and capabilities as well as an opportunity to see the latest air crafts as the state-of-the-art technical advancements, since we have to procure new aviation equipment and aircrafts.

This air show will mark a centennial of the Serbian aviation, and id dedicated to the launch of the first balloon “Serbia” in 1909. cherishing the traditions of the Serbian aviation is in the basis of the whole event, yet it is another step in improving international cooperation in the field of air force, and a chance to promote our own air force, professionalism , capability and pilot skills.

This will boost Serbia’s international repute and credibility, since we will prove that we are capable of organizing such a large-scale event. After all, this is part of a serious life of one state, which has or aspires to have a serious and powerful air force.

It is only natural for a country with such a long-standing tradition in aviation to organize such an event.

 

Other ministries and state institutions have also been involved in organizing this event. How is the cooperation going and what are their tasks?

Upon the proposal of the Ministry of Defense, the Government of Serbia supported the organization of this event providing us with sufficient funds which have been deposited by the Flioght control agency based on the  business-technical cooperation agreement which we are using for infrastructure works thus hoping to raise the operability level of Batajnica airfield. It is the preparations which cost a lot of money and we are conducting these works in such a way as to make the maneuver areas of the Batajnica airfield in harmony with the top security standards. The reconstruction cost 150 million RSD.

However, it should be noted that these works have  not been done just for the sake of the air show but rather because the airfield needed them. Even civil use of the airport is a possibility.

We rely solely on our own resources, while cooperating with other ministries and donors which recognized their interest in appearing in the air show. The Police Force of Serbia also gave their contribution, while the public transport and the communal services of Belgrade also took part in preparing for this event. I would like to mention and thank the following institutions which backed us up: the Paper Bill Institute, the Civil Aviation Directorate, the Flight Control Agency, Customs, many companies, donors, sponsors and a large number of air force lovers.

 

Who are the dignitaries we should expect?

Deputy UK Defense Minister as well as the commander of the Norwegian air force, and we are expecting some other persons to confirm their arrival, with the presence of some important persons from Serbia, the President of Serbia the members of the Government and the diplomatic corps. This is just another of very important activities organized by our ministry and SAF such as the MEDCEUR 2009 military medical exercise  with 450 participants, followed by this air show. Al these events will promote MoD and SAF as a serious and positive factor in the state administration and in the region, too.

Our involvement in the Summer University Olympics 2009 also contributed to the general positive image of SAF we are trying to promote and develop.

 

Have there been any negative effects caused by the recent plane crashes and deaths of pilots?

These are tragic events which, however, are al a part of life. So let us not invoke any negative events. We should bear in mind that our pilots started more intensive flights three years ago, and you know that such a profession as that of a pilot requires continuity. These accidents are all the risks we have to accept, and these tragedies should not affect the air show. Pilots will be flying and performing acro tasks, and this is their life. We will have a remarkable opportunity to see some of the finest pilots in the world