Chinese air force fly over Bulgaria to deliver Missiles to Serbia

Politics » DEFENSE | April 11, 2022, Monday // 09:31
Bulgaria: Chinese air force fly over Bulgaria to deliver Missiles to Serbia Xi'an Y-20 @Wikimedia Commons

For the second day in a row, a group of six military transport planes of the Chinese Air Force flew over Bulgaria in the direction of Belgrade. It is believed that this is a supply of anti-aircraft missile system HQ-22, reported De Re Militari.

Russia's ally Serbia has received the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system as part of a covert operation this weekend amid Western fears that the accumulation of weapons in the Balkans during Ukraine's war could threaten fragile peace in the region reported AP.

Media and military experts said Sunday that six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade's civilian airport early Saturday. They reportedly delivered HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems to the Serbian army.

Chinese military-marked cargo planes were filmed at Belgrade's Nikola Tesla Airport.

The supply of weapons over the territory of at least two NATO member states: Turkey and Bulgaria, is seen by experts as a demonstration of China's growing global reach.

“The advent of the Y-20 came as a surprise because they were flying in a group, not as a series of single planes,” The Warzone magazine wrote online. “The presence of the Y-20 in Europe in any number is also still a fairly new phenomenon.”

Serbian military analyst Alexander Radic said “the Chinese have demonstrated force”, BTA reports. And President Alexander Vucic has almost confirmed the 2019 delivery of the medium-range system. On Saturday, he said he would present the Serbian army's “latest pride” on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Earlier, he complained that NATO countries, which most of Serbia’s neighbors are, were refusing to allow the delivery system to fly over their territories amid Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Serbia has voted in favor of UN resolutions condemning Russia's attacks on Ukraine, but has not joined international sanctions against Moscow, nor has it openly criticized the atrocities.

In 2020, US officials warned Belgrade not to buy HQ-22 anti-aircraft systems, the export version of which is known as FK-3. They said that if Serbia really wants to join the European Union and other Western alliances, it must bring its military equipment in line with Western standards.

The Chinese missile system has been compared to the American Patriot and the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, although it has a shorter range than the more advanced S-300. Serbia will be the first Chinese missile operator in Europe.

In 2020, it received Chengdu Pterodactyl-1 drones, known in China as Wing Loong. Combat drones can strike targets with bombs and missiles and can be used for reconnaissance missions.

There are fears in the West that arming Serbia from Russia and China could push the Balkan country into a new war.

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/De Re Militari, AP, The Warzone, OFFNews

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Tags: Chinese, Serbian, Bulgaria, hq-22
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