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BELGRADE, October 3. /TASS/. Russia’s first two of six fighter jets MiG-29 have been delivered by a cargo aircraft to a military airport near the Serbian capital of Belgrade, the Serbian Defense Ministry announced in its statement on Tuesday.
The Russian fighter jets were delivered by an Antonov An-124 military transport aircraft to Serbia’s Batajnica Air Base, located some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away from Belgrade.
"Two MiG-29 aircraft were handed over to the Serbian Air Force," the statement said. "Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin, Chief-of-Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces Ljubisa Dikovic and Air Force Commander Ranko Zivak were present at the Batajnica air field as the An-124 plane landed."
Defense Minister Vulin told journalists at the airport that on July 4 Russia stated its intentions to begin delivering warplanes to Serbia starting on October 2.
"As you all can see, it did happen on October 2," Minister Vulin said. "Four remaining fighter jets will arrive before Friday and we can now proudly state that our Air Force received new combat aircraft for the first time since 1987."
"It is extremely important that we are managing to make our armed forces stronger, more organized and modern," the Serbian defense minister added.
Serbia is receiving six Mikoyan MiG-29 (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum) fighter jets from Russia on an earlier agreed gratuitous delivery between two countries.
According to reports earlier in the year, the delivered to Serbia aircraft were to undergo maintenance works either in Russia or to be taken care of by a team of Russian specialists in Serbia. The upgrading of the combat aircraft was reported to be carried out for Serbia in three stages at the price of 180-230 million euros ($211-270 million).
During the MAKS 2017 airshow in July outside the Russian capital of Moscow, Head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Dmitry Shugayev said that Russia was planning to complete the delivery of MiG-29 fighters to Serbia by the end of 2017.
Belarus was also reported earlier to deliver eight MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia in 2018 free of charge, but on the condition that Belgrade had to pay for their overhaul and maintenance.
Belgrade also signed earlier in the year a contract to purchase nine H145M combat aircraft, manufactured by Airbus Helicopters.