On the vast firing range, bordered with steep coastline of the Black Sea, crews are in their assets, missiles are being examined, the materiel is being checked and all the elements necessary for such a complex firing are being adjusted to perform successfully.
Firing at Shabla is especially important because there is no such firing range in Serbia where it could be carried out, so the joint firings with Bulgarian colleagues, which are to be conducted for the fifth time since 2010, are opportunity for the theory to be applied in practice. Lieutenant Colonel Goran Lekić, commander of the 2nd Air Defence Missile Battalion armed with NEVA missile system, speaks about the challenge for each rocketeer to crown their training by live firings, as a valuable experience.
- Here we acquire vast experience in live firings. We are in a position to share our knowledge and experience with Bulgarian colleagues and together acquire a new knowledge, which is beneficial to both parties in transferring it to the next generations and for the training of new officers and non-commissioned officers – Lekić stressed, adding that this is the way to have quality and trained personnel qualified for this type of air defence operations in the years to come.
In the NEVA missile-armed crew, Sergeant First Class Svjetlana Matijević, serving as manual tracking operator, points out that on her path from a professional soldier to the first non-commissioned ranks she had opportunity to work with real targets and training equipment. Firing at Shabla, according to her, will be the first time for her to experience real life firing, because so far these were only simulations.
At the position of CUB missile system, members of the 310th Self-Propelled Air Defence Missile Battalion are getting prepared as well together with their Bulgarian colleagues. Speaking about the upcoming tasks, Commander Lieutenant Colonel Boris Štrk stresses that what they are going to do is firing at a parachute target with two self-propelled rocket batteries, experimental firing for the Technical Test Centre, firing at two parachute targets and radio-controlled targets.
- For members of the unit, firings are the peak of the training. Most of those who are involved in firings this year have no experience in firing a missile. Firing a missile is a special experience and for the first time they will have opportunity of firing in real life conditions equal to combat conditions – Lieutenant Colonel Štrk stressed. He also added that the battalion had already had the opportunity to fire at Shabla and they already know well their colleagues from the Bulgarian Army and cooperate with them, having in mind that it is in the common interest that the materiel is serviceable before the upcoming firing.
It is for the first time that members of the AD artillery-missile units participate in firing at Shabla, who will do the firing using Strela-2M man portable air defence system. Director of firing with the said system, Major Dragan Bogosavljević, reminded that the last time when the firing was carried out with this system was in 2004.
- This system has not been used for firing for a long time, because in Serbia there are no appropriate conditions for this, and it is our great pleasure that we got a chance to fire. Here, the firing will be carried out mainly by young commanding officers, among whom there are five second lieutenants, and we expect them to master not only firing, but also other roles of authorities in the firing range – Bogosavljević said, adding that these young commanding officers will be able to continue with the training of new generations using the acquired knowledge.
He pointed out that members of all three operational units of the Serbian Armed Forces were involved in the execution of the firings at the Bulgarian Army firing range.
As part of the joint firings Shabla 2019, verification of the CUB and NEVA rocket systems is to be carried out. 3D radar of the Technical Test Centre is to be used on specially selected samples for the purpose of ballistic missile flight testing. Commander of the 3D radar crew, Second Lieutenant Milica Stojković, points out that the task of the team she leads is the measurement of the ballistic characteristics of the missiles, as well as the control of operation of the systems and the crews on the systems.
- It is important for us to see the firing performance, but also to improve our systems, missiles and operation of crews in the future – Second Lieutenant Stojković emphasises, adding that for her as a young officer, the experience from such firings is very important because in our country there are no conditions for similar firings, so Shabla is an opportunity for that.