Serbia has purchased a new generation of medium-range radar-guided surface-to-air missiles from China. The move is considered the latest sign of deepening cooperation between Beijing and Belgrade.
According to Reuters report on August 3, “the purchase of the FK-3 missile defense system was included in the state-run arms company Jugoimport SDPR’s annual report, submitted to the state Business Registers Agency last week and seen by Reuters.”
The FK-3 is an export version of China’s latest generation of HQ-22 medium-range air defense missiles, which first appeared at the 2016 Zhuhai Air Show.
“Jugoimport SDPR said it made 163 import deals with 31 countries for $620.3 million in 2019. The weapons purchases included armed drones from China and Europe’s first known purchase of the FK-3.”
The FK-3 air defense missile, which Serbia purchased has a maximum range of 100 kilometers and a shooting height of 50 meters to 27,000 meters. The source said that Serbia has purchased 3 sets of FK-3 systems.
“In late June, Serbia’s air force received six CH-92A combat drones armed with laser-guided missiles, the first such deployment of Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles in Europe.”
China’s state media Global Times said that this drone is mainly used for reconnaissance and surveillance, but it also has certain strike capabilities.
The Serbian military traditionally uses the technology of the former Soviet Union. In recent years, Belgrade has purchased MiG-29 fighter jets, missiles, helicopters, tanks and armored personnel carriers from Russia.
China has been pumping money into Balkan countries, mainly on soft loans, infrastructure and energy projects. Beijing sees Serbia as part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative and an important springboard to enter the Balkans.
In April last year, the Chinese government stated that, under the framework of the “One Belt, One Road,” the cooperation between the two countries achieved remarkable results. In the past six years, until 2019, the bilateral trade volume increased by 55.7 percent; the number of tourists from China to Serbia has also increased significantly. 2018 saw more than 100,000 Chinese tourists; the total contractual value of infrastructure construction projects of Chinese-funded enterprises exceeded US$5 billion. In recent years, China’s construction in the western Balkans and issuance of preferential loans in the name of promoting the development of infrastructure has attracted widespread international attention. The European Union expressed its concern that Southeast European countries in the western Balkans might suffer from China’s “debt trap diplomacy.”
Source: Voice of America, August 3, 2020