PICTURE: Utva resumes Serbian Lasta trainer deliveries

Belgrade
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A factory-fresh indigenous Lasta primary trainer on its way from Utva's factory in Pancevo to Serbia's Batajnica air base was exhibited at the Partner 2013 arms expo in Belgrade from 25-28 June.

The tenth of 15 production examples ordered for the Serbian air force, aircraft serial number 54211 was due to enter pre-delivery flight testing following the show.

 

Igor Salinger/Aermedia.com

Flights with the Lasta resumed in Serbia on 17 May, having been suspended following a September 2012 crash involving the type. One test pilot died after bailing out from the trainer, while the other was injured in the accident, which was later attributed to a jammed rudder caused by design and production flaws. The mishap occurred during one of the last planned sorties before the type's scheduled introduction to service with the Batajnica-based 252nd training squadron.

Two prototypes, 20 analogue cockpit-equipped Lasta 95Ns previously delivered to the Iraqi air force, and eight V-54 Lastas with Garmin 500 glass cockpits already handed over to Serbia are undergoing modifications, sources say. Baghdad's examples are believed to have been grounded since March 2012, because of engine-related issues.

Sources suggest there is additional interest in the Lasta, including from "several African countries". These could include Algeria, Angola and Libya, plus potentially more examples for Iraq.

Meanwhile, Serbia's Batajnica-based 101 Sqn resumed operations with one of its four RAC MiG-29 fighters on 9 July. The type had been inactive since the latter part of 2012, because of serviceability issues. Earlier this year, Belgrade said it is close to finalising a deal to acquire six replacement MiG-29M/M2s.