PICTURES: Serbia receives first Lasta basic trainers, eyes more Mi-17s

Belgrade
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The Serbian air force (ViPVO) has taken delivery of its first two Utva Lasta basic trainers, the service's commander-in-chief, Brigadier General Ranko Zivak, said on 9 December.

Designated the V-54 by Belgrade, the first production example for ViPVO arrived at Batajnica airbase in mid-October and will be handed over to 252 Training Sqn.

serbian utva lasta - credit igor salinger 

 © Igor Salinger

Brig Gen Zivak said its entire order of 15 aircraft is expected to be delivered by the end of 2012.

The Lycoming AEIO-540-L1B5D-powered Lastas are the first new aircraft for the Serbian armed forces since the last Utva G-4 Super Galeb jets were delivered around two decades ago. The entire order will be fulfilled as ViPVO gears up to celebrate its 100th anniversary in December 2012.

serbian utva lasta - credit igor salinger 

 © Igor Salinger

Serbia's examples are based on the P2 prototype and feature more modern avionics - using Garmin's G500 system - than the batch of 20 Lasta 95Ns previously delivered to Iraq.

ViPVO said the upgraded equipment will cut training costs.

serbian utva lasta - credit igor salinger 

 © Igor Salinger

The Lasta is equipped with two hardpoints and can carry unguided 57mm rockets, gun pods or "dumb" bombs.

Meanwhile, Brig Gen Zivak said that it is looking to procure a number of Mil Mi-17 helicopters, in addition to two refurbished models that were recently introduced to the service.