The Slavic Shield joint exercise for anti-air divisions from Russia and Serbia will become an annual event, Russian anti-air commander Yuri Grekhov told Echo of Moscow radio station in an interview.
The commander noted that the countries are currently considering numerous options for joint exercises. One such option would be to conduct exercises annually, but alternating the host country, i.e. one year in Russia, the next in Serbia. However, other formats are also possible.
“Next year we are planning to conduct an exercise not only with anti-air automatics against ground targets, but also with anti-air guided missiles against real targets, which we will bring with us and launch,” Grekhov explained.
This year, the Russian-Serbian Slavic Shield anti-air exercise was conducted for the first time, and was done in two stages. In the first, which was held at the Ashuluk Training Ground in Russia, troops from both countries took tests on independently operating S-400 and Pantsir-S anti-air missile systems. Serbian air force and anti-air officers underwent intensive training on training systems in Gatchina.
The second stage took place at the Serbian Batajnica Air Base on the outskirts of Belgrade, to which Russia brought an S-400 and a Pantsir-S anti-air missile system. Soldiers from both countries practiced defending military and civilian facilities against enemy air raids. The Pantsir-S was used with live ammunition, but only electronic launches were done with the S-400.
The appearance of an S-400 virtually in the center of Europe drew NATO’s attention to the exercise. Alliance aircraft spent several days circling the Serbian border in order to keep an eye on the drills.