NATO’s military operation against Yugoslavia has already gone down in history. The 1999 Operation Merciful Angel specifically saw the shooting down by Serbia of an F-117 stealth fighter which was billed as an invulnerable aircraft by the United States. The F-117 was downed by Colonel Zoltan Dani, former commander of the 3rd battery of the 250th Missile Brigade in Belgrade, on March 27, 1999.
In an interview with the Voice of Russia broadcast on Friday, Dani, who retired in 2004 and now owns a small bakery outside Belgrade, elaborated on the March 27 events:
“At about 18:00 local time, we were ordered to turn on the system. We checked out the functionality of the missile defense system, reporting that the 3rd battery was on combat alert. After 20:00, a NATO airstrike began which prompted us to turn on the radar that tracked down an approaching target. We asked the mission control center to act against this aircraft, and at 20:41 we got the go-ahead. At 20:42, the target was destroyed. It took us 18 seconds to do so.”
How did you manage to spot the stealth fighter?
To that end, we used the Soviet-made P18 meter band radar which is capable of tracking any warplane irrespective of the configuration of its fuselage. The radar started to emit and we discovered a target at a distance of 15 kilometers – something that our operators were distinctly seeing on a display. I was quick to order the launch of a missile which destroyed the target.
You mean that you managed to shoot down the sophisticated aircraft with the help of the vintage S-125Neva anti-aircraft system?
I don’t quite agree with you. Of course, Russia has more advanced missile defense systems, but I proceed from the assumption that a cat’s color does not contribute to its ability to catch mice. At the time, the S-125Neva was believed to be a rather advanced system, and we had no other systems to tackle NATO airstrikes.
Is it true that you subsequently got acquainted with a pilot of the downed F-117?
I only want to say that a relevant documentary, the Second Meeting, is due to be released before the end of this year. It took us almost four years to meet – an occasion that was held in a positive atmosphere and that helped us to bolster our communication which is still under way. Our project aims to hammer home how important world peace and family values are…