Serbian Air Force “Boneyard” at the Belgrade Aeronautical Museum

Out the back of the Belgrade Aeronautical Museum at the Nikola Tesla International Airport sits the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence aircraft “Boneyard” (the aircraft are owned by the museum now though). Here you can see many old airframes of both Soviet and Yugoslav origin set out in a large secured area. Although you can view the aircraft, I soon discovered during my visit to the air museum in late November 2015 that you are not actually allowed in this area and museum personnel make sure you keep to the designated areas!

Serbian Air Force "Boneyard"
Serbian Air Force “Boneyard”
The history if Soko Aviation sits in open storage Serbian AF Boneyard
The history if Soko Aviation sits in open storage

In 1996 with the cessation of hostilities following the Yugoslav Wars (1991-1995) the former Yugoslavian republics agreed to the Florence Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control. On June 14th, 1996 the associated nations signed an arms limitation agreement to reduce, monitor and control the size of their military assets to help prevent future hostilities. Dozens of Soko G-2 Galeb, J-21 Jastreb and J-22 Orao 1 aircraft operated by Serbia and other aircraft operated by the Republika Srpska Air Force were taken out of service following this agreement with many ending up in this “boneyard”, where you can see a multitude of aircraft operated by the former Yugoslav Air Force, Serbian Air Force and State Security including:

Home Grown Aviation

Soko G-2A (N-60) Galeb (Seagull) two-seat trainer and light attack aircraft introduced in July 1965. The G-2A was the first jet aircraft designed and built in Yugoslavia (fitted with a licence built Rolls Royce/Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet engine). 132 examples were operated by the Yugoslav Air Force primarily for cadet combat training at the VVA (Military Air Force Academy) units but the type also saw combat during the Bosnian War (1992-1995), with the 105th Aviation Brigade of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) defence force. Most were retired by 1999 the last was still in service with Serbia until 2002.

Serbian AF Soko G-2 Galeb boneyard Belgrade Aeronautical Museum
Soko G-2 Galeb trainer in the foreground surrounded by J-21 Jastreb ground attack aircraft

Soko P-2 (J-20) Kraguj (Sparrow Hawk) single seat close support, counter insurgency (COIN) propeller driven aircraft. Introduced in March 1967 as a “partisan aircraft” capable of short landings and take-off’s from rough fields, roads etc. particularly in the many mountains of Yugoslavia with no special preparation (this was especially handy in the advent that an aggressor took out the runways of the main airbases). 85 P-2 (J-20) were manufactured but all were retired by the Yugoslav Air Force in 1989 and handed over to the republic’s Territorial Defence Headquarters and operated by State Security.

Soko P-2 (J-20) Kraguj (Sparrow Hawk) Serbian Air Force Boneyard
A wingless Soko P-2 (J-20) Kraguj (Sparrow Hawk) in the foreground with plenty of G-2’s and J-21’s behind it
Soko P-2 (J-20) Kraguj (Sparrow Hawk)
More Soko P-2 (J-20) Kraguj (Sparrow Hawk) in the background an a KA-28 Helix helicopter to the left

Soko J-1 (J-21) Jastreb (Hawk) single seat ground attack aircraft introduced in 1969. A development of the two-seat G-2A Galeb trainer,  the Yugoslav Air Force operated 103 J-21’s, with Serbia retiring the type in 1996. This type makes up the majority of the old airframes sitting out in the open.

Plenty of Soko J-21 Jastreb ground attack aircraft are in open storage at the Belgrade airport
Plenty of Soko J-21 Jastreb ground attack aircraft are in open storage at the Belgrade airport
Plenty of Soko J-21 Jastreb ground attack aircraft are in open storage at the Belgrade airport
A multitude of Soko aircraft are in open storage

Many of the aircraft are apparently former Yugoslav Air Force (JRViPVO) aircraft that were given to the Republika Srpska Air Force for combat missions during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). The independent state of Republika Srpska (ethnic Serbians) was declared within northern Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 9th, 1992 and their capital became Banja Luka. Much of the JRViPVO equipment in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia was given to the Republika Srpska Air Force which was officially formed on May 27th, 1992 (with local air force personnel and territorial defence personnel) to protect the local Serbian population.

Despite a NATO no-fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina the Republika Srpska Air Force aircraft would fly to Belgrade when due for servicing and basically be swapped one for one by Yugoslav aircraft rather than returning the same aircraft. These were predominately the Soko J-21 Jastreb single seat ground attack aircraft you see in my photos. A handful were still in service when the Republika Srpska Air Force merged into the Armed Forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2006, who continue to operate around 12 J-21’s today for training and ground attack purposes.

There are possibly some examples of the Soko TJ-1 (NJ-21) Jastreb (Hawk) two-seat advanced trainer and light attack aircraft within the outdoor storage area. This type was a development of the single seat J-21 variant. The TJ-1 Jastreb trainer was introduced into Yugoslav service in 1975, with only 14 manufactured. The last example was retired in 1996.

Soko IJ-22 Orao 1 (Eagle 1) twin-engine (non afterburning) subsonic attack and reconnaissance aircraft. Examples include both the single seat Soko IJ-22 Orao 1 and the twin-seat Soko INJ-22 Orao 1 (although a trainer, the twin-seat variant was actually used for tactical reconnaissance). 27 Soko IJ-22/J-22 Orao 1 single seat aircraft were introduced into Yugoslav service in 1978 and most were retired by 1997. 8 IJ-22 were converted to the J-22M Orao 2 variant and 6 INJ-22 twin-seaters to the NJ-22 Orao 2D variant (the upgraded Orao 2 entered first service in 1986 and continue to fly with Serbia). The single-seater in a purple livery was an interesting sight!

Soko Orao two-seat attack and reconnaissance aircraft / trainers Serbian AF boneyard Belgrade
Soko Orao two-seat attack and reconnaissance aircraft / trainers
The purple Soko J-22 Orao Belgrade Serbian AF boneyard
The purple Soko J-22 Orao

Soko 522 trainer aircraft fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 Wasp radial engine that was introduced into Yugoslav service in 1958. 112 were built and remained in service at the Air Academy in Zadar, Croatia and with various units for the basic and advanced training of pilots until 1978. I could see at least one Soko 522 amongst the retired airframes (a restored example is also inside the museum).

Soko 522 trainer aircraft Belgrade Serbian AF boneyard
Soko 522 trainer aircraft

Soko G-4 (N-62) Super Galeb two-seat advanced trainer and light attack aircraft first introduced into the Yugoslav Air Force in 1983/84 as a replacement for the G-2A Galeb. 90 G-4 aircraft were manufactured for the Yugoslav Air Force and the type remains in service today with the former Yugoslavian republics of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia (civil purposes). A few examples can be found at the very back section behind the air museum (I kind of missed seeing them properly until later looking at some general photos I took on the day I was at the museum in late November 2015).

Serbian AF boneyard Soko G-4 Super Galeb Belgrade
A small number of Soko G-4 Super Galeb trainers can be seen to the left in this photo

Utva-66 STOL four seat utility/ training aircraft designed to be suitable for landing and taking off from unprepared fields. This robust type first flew in 1966. The Yugoslav Air Force operated up to 170 examples (they ended up dispersed across most of the republics of the former Yugoslavia) and 6 were fitted with floats to operate from the Split seaplane base in Croatia. The Utva-66-AM variant was used as an air ambulance with accommodation for 2 stretchers. Other variants could have a machine gun mounted for offensive operations and it was possible to fit universal underwing pylons that could carry a payload of 150 kg. The floatplane variant was retired in 1979 but the last standard variants were not retired until 1999.

Utva-66 airframes Serbian Air Force Boneyard Belgrade
Utva-66 airframes amongst the large number of Soko aircraft
Utva-66 airframes and a couple of Utva Aero 3 two seat trainers Serbian Air Force Boneyard Belgrade
Utva-66 airframes and a couple of Utva Aero 3 two seat trainers

Amongst the Utva-66 airframes are a couple of Utva Aero 3 two seat trainers. 110 were in Yugoslav Air Force service from 1954 to 1965. Nearby is a Utva 65S Super Privrednik agricultural spraying aircraft, of which 66 were built from 1965 (18 were exported to a number of nations). Those not exported were operated by the Yugoslav Agricultural Aviation and in service from 1965 to 1986 (one is also on display in the museum).

 

Soviet Origin Aircraft

Kamov Ka-28PL Helix A Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopter (this was the export version of the Ka-27 and were designated HT-46 in Yugoslavia). 2 were operated from 1987 by the 784th Anti Submarine Helicopter Squadron in Split, Croatia. The sensors on the helicopters were used to track enemy shipping and guide attack aircraft to targets. In 1992 during the Croatian War of Independence (March 31st, 1991 to November 12th, 1995) the Ka-28’s were used to monitor the movement of Croatian paramilitary forces. The type was retired in 2000. One is in the “boneyard” and another is on display in the museums airpark.

Kamov Ka-28 Helix helicopter Serbia
Kamov Ka-28 Helix helicopter to the left (you can just see the yellow tail of the Mil Mi-2 Hoplite)

Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21bis Fishbed fighters (plus possibly earlier single seat MiG-21 variants) and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21U/UM Mongol A/B two-seat trainers are in the “boneyard” (they are all towards the back fence). The MiG-21 Fishbed was the mainstay fighter of the Yugoslav Air Force from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. Yugoslavia received 277 MiG-21 variants in total between 1962 and 1977 from the Soviet Union with many older variants being retired during the 1980’s and 1990’s. To support this large fleet it was essential to operate the two-seat trainer MiG-21 to maintain pilot proficiency and expertise.

MiG-21bis Fishbed fighter with a Republic F-84G Thunderjet (right) and North American F-86E Sabre (left) behind it Serbian AF Boneyard Belgrade
MiG-21bis Fishbed fighter with a Republic F-84G Thunderjet (right) and North American F-86E Sabre (left) behind it
MiG-21 two seat trainers in the background Serbian AF Boneyard
MiG-21 two seat trainers in the background
Two seat MiG-21 and Soko Orao aircraft in the background Serbian AF Boneyard Belgrade
Two seat MiG-21 trainers, Soko Orao aircraft and a de Havilland Dove in the background

100 of the definitive MiG-21bis Fishbed L were delivered in 1977 and a small number remain in service with the Serbian Air Force today. Of the two-seat trainer variants, 9 MiG-21U Mongol A and 9 MiG-21US Mongol B were introduced in 1965 and 1969 respectively with both variants retired in 1991, 35 MiG-21UM Mongol B were introduced in 1970 and some are likely to still be in service with the Serbian Air Force today.

Mil Mi-2 Hoplite utility helicopter. 15 were operated by the Yugoslav Air Force from 1969 to 1987 for light transport, Search and Rescue (SAR) and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) duties. In later years they flew with the Auto-Moto Union of Yugoslavia to aid in emergency medical evacuations of car accident victims. One is in the “boneyard” and another is on display in the museum.

Serbian AF Boneyard Belgrade Aeronautical Museum
You can make out part of the yellow fuselage of the Mil Mi-2 Hoplite medevac helicopter next to the Kamov Ka-28 Helix in the background

Other Aircraft

There is a former Yugoslav Airlines (JAT) Sud Aviation Se.210 Caravelle VIN airliner out there too but it is acutally part of the air museum (acquired into the collection in 1977). JAT received their first example in 1963 when it landed at the Belgrade airport. This became the first jet airliner operated by Yugoslavia. 8 Caravelle airlines flew with JAT until retired in 1976.

former Yugoslav Airlines (JAT) Sud Aviation Se.210 Caravelle VIN airliner Belgrade Aeronautical Museum
former Yugoslav Airlines (JAT) Sud Aviation Se.210 Caravelle VIN airliner
former Yugoslav Airlines (JAT) Sud Aviation Se.210 Caravelle VIN airliner
Although part of the air museum the Caravelle is displayed in the fenced off area

In the far back corner you can see a de Havilland DH.104 Dove British designed short-haul airliner. The Yugoslav Air Force operated 2 Dove aircraft from 1955 to 1970.

There are numerous airframes plus trucks and missile systems that you can make out from the airpark of the museum. It looks like a number of these are being stored in the open air “boneyard” awaiting restoration. I saw a Republic F-84G Thunderjet fighter-bomber which was the first jet fighter type in the Yugoslav Air Force (219 were delivered from the United States from 1953 and the last was operated until 1974) and a wingless Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Dakota (35 were operated from 1945 to 1976). There are others beyond all this but I couldn’t make them all out, one airframe is definitely a North American F-86E Sabre fighter which is a surprising omission from the museums current restored collection (in 1956/57 43 former Royal Air Force Canadair CL-13 Mk.IV Sabre jets were delivered to Yugoslavia and were followed in 1959 by 78 North American F-86E Sabre fighters. The last Sabre jet was not retired until 1974).

Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Dakota Belgrade Aeronautical Museum Serbian AF Boneyard
Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Dakota
Obsolete trucks, radar and Surface to Air Missile systems Belgrade Aeronautical Museum Serbian AF
Obsolete trucks, radar and Surface to Air Missile systems
Belgrade Aeronautical Museum (satellite image from Bing Maps)
Belgrade Aeronautical Museum (satellite image from Bing Maps)

This “boneyard” adds an interesting side to the official external airpark of the Belgrade Aeronautical Museum. There are a lot of aircraft further to the back that you cannot really get a good look at but generally I think I have covered off the majority of the types in outdoor storage at the airport.

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8 thoughts on “Serbian Air Force “Boneyard” at the Belgrade Aeronautical Museum

    1. Yes I hope so but most of the aircraft have been out there for some time and Serbian winters are not kind. There was no indication for a restoration of the aircraft at the back of the facility which I believe are earmarked for the museum. The rest are Air Force property. Time will tell

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Classic Serbia. Most of these aircraft are not actually part of the museum and suffer from the weather exposure. The building has seen better days outside but inside the restored aircraft are immaculate (luckily)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Correction. All that aircraft are actually property of the Museum. Most of them were handed over in 1996. after Florence Agreement on Sub-Regional Arms Control as surplus aircraft. Black and green J-20 Kraguj were in squadron of State Security (special police) along SA 342, Bell 212, MI-17 and MI-24 helicopters and were used in Kosovo during 1998-1999. against KLA forces. Some aircraft (G-2, Utva 66 and Soko 522) were sold to private users in US, Canada and France as warbirds. It was intended to use use these “boneyard” planes for the exchange for new museum pieces or to sale them and use that resources for funding restoration of other planes such as FIAT G.50 (the only one left in the world), JAK -9P, and FOCKE WULF FW190F-8…
    You can see list of all museum airplanes here:
    http://www.muzejrv.mod.gov.rs/pages_files/expo_files/avioni_files/avioniMain.html
    Helicopters:
    http://www.muzejrv.mod.gov.rs/pages_files/expo_files/helikopteri_files/helikopteriMain.html
    Gliders:
    http://www.muzejrv.mod.gov.rs/pages_files/expo_files/jedrilice_files/jedriliceMain.html

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My whole family loved this museum. Had 2 hours before our flight – so easy to walk across from the airport to it.
    Fantastic f’loating ring’ building. So much history in there, not all planes either. all sorts of other bits and bobs. It is shabby, but of its’ time. Many would think it could do with smartening up, that it what we are used to but it is very special as it is. I wish some of the planes outside could be housed inside to preserve them. Would have liked more time to wander about.

    Liked by 1 person

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