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News 19 Jan 15

Montenegro ‘Failing to Protect Its Airspace’

Nine years after independence, Montenegro still lacks the basic capacity to protect its airspace and must rely on assistance from NATO countries, a local watchdog group said. 

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica

 

The Montenegrin Army’s air force does not have adequate equipment or enough capacity to control the country’s skies, even though airspace protection is one of the priorities Podgorica’s NATO integration process, the Centre for Democratic Transition watchdog claimed.

In its latest report, the organisation said that the Montenegrin Army doesn’t have sufficient combat systems, missile systems, aircraft, helicopters or modern radars for air surveillance.

It said that the air force’s existing facilities do not enable it to carry out the missions it was assigned under the most recent national Strategic Defence Review in 2013. 

"The Air Force has limited technical and operational capabilities for search and rescue missions in the air," the report said.

Until 2006, the Montenegrin skies were protected by the Army of Serbia and Montenegro. After gaining independece in May 2006, the Montenegrin government decided not to invest in the modernisation of the air force even though the army was entrusted with protecting the country’s skies.

Montenegro has sold the majority of the 17 military aircraft left over from the former Yugoslavia in the past five years, eliminating any chance of independently protecting its air space. 

As only Croatia and Serbia of all the former Yugoslav republics are capable of protecting their own airspace, NATO in 2013 launched an initiative to assist Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia to establish control over their skies. 

With partial financial support from NATO and under the patronage of the Croatian Army, the three countries must jointly purchase modern surveillance equipment to ensure airspace protection.

 

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