Serbia is to acquire a number of Chinese unmanned air vehicles to be used for both reconnaissance and offensive missions.

Nenad Miloradovic, Belgrade's assistant defence minister, confirmed on 17 September in Beijing that the country would buy the systems.

They will be capable of day and night surveillance missions and be capable of carrying laser-guided munitions, he indicates.

Miloradovic gave his statement only a day after Serbian media reported that the acquisition would cover a total of six UAVs, including two Chengdu Aircraft Industry Wing Loong IIs. These would be assembled locally using Chinese-supplied technology.

However, Miloradovic declines to confirm the systems under consideration. The agreement includes industrial co-operation and technology transfer, he says.

"The transfer of technology would provide Serbian military industry with the capability to integrate complex electro-optical systems into the indigenously developed UAVs.

"These would then possess capability for battlefield surveillance at day and night, for transmitting target co-ordinates and providing artillery fire control, and for aiming laser-guided bombs and rockets launched from ground-based platforms or unmanned combat air vehicles," Miloradovic says.

The first systems are due to start flying in Serbia in 2019, he indicates.

By Igor Bozinovski