ЦАМТО, 12 April.
On April 9, 6 large military transport Y-20A aircraft of the PLA Air Force (b.n. 20041, 20042, 20045, 20047, 20049 and 20142) landed at the Belgrade airport, which, presumably, delivered a batch of medium-range air defense systems FK-3 (export version of the HQ- 22).
Six more PLA Air Force planes flew the same route on April 10, probably with additional SAM components. According to the Flightradar24 website, the Y-20A landed in Baku (Azerbaijan) on the flight route, after which they crossed the airspace of Turkey and Bulgaria. The flight of PLA military aircraft armed over the territory of at least two NATO member countries was regarded by a number of experts as a demonstration of China's growing global influence. Serbian military analyst Aleksandar Radic said that in this way "China carried out a show of force."
According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying, after the arrival of six Y-20 aircraft in Serbia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed in a telephone conversation with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic that China "strongly supports Serbia in defending the sovereignty of , territorial integrity and national security".
The Serbian Ministry of Defense has not yet commented on reports of the delivery. According to the China Global Times, three FK-3 air defense systems were delivered to Belgrade. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić practically confirmed the delivery of the systems, telling reporters on April 9 that next week he would present "new weapon systems that will become the pride of the Serbian armed forces."
Serbia will become the first operator of Chinese air defense systems in Europe. As reported by TsAMTO, the purchase of the FK-3 air defense system by Serbia first became known in July 2020 from the annual report of the Serbian company Jugoimport SDPR. The complexes were ordered in 2019.
As a military expert from Hong Kong Liang Guoliang said, Serbia purchased three FK-3 complexes from China, each of which includes three launchers, a radar, a control vehicle, support vehicles, auxiliary equipment and equipment, and missiles.
In 2020, US officials warned Belgrade against buying SAMs from China, saying if Serbia really wants to join the European Union and other Western alliances, it must bring its military hardware up to Western standards.
The HQ-22 air defense system was developed by the Chinese Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation CASIC (China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation Limited) and is designed to destroy various types of aerodynamic and ballistic targets (including UAVs and TBR warheads). The firing range is from 5 to 170 km, the height of target destruction is from 50 m to 27 km. According to available information, the maximum firing range of the export version of the FK-3 is 100 km.
On April 9, Serbian President A. Vučić also announced that he was negotiating with France on the purchase of 12 new Rafal fighters and with another country on the purchase of 12 used Rafals.
In addition, A. Vucic told reporters that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured him that Serbia would be able to buy armed Bayraktar TB2 UAVs.