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These are the Classic Helicopters of the Bosnia-Herzegovinian Air Force

Bosnian Air Force Mi-8 11 photos
Photo: Wikimedia Commons ( Fair Use)
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Bosnia and Herzegovina is a part of Eastern Europe a fair amount of North Americans probably couldn't point out on a map.. But to fill you in, they're a warrior nation where every citizen could become a guerilla soldier in a pinch if need be. This extends to their Air Force as well.
The Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina perform all the duties any national Air Force would serve, all with far more word-salad in its official name than an episode of Wheel of Fortune.

Founded only 15 years ago, on December 1st, 2006, the 700 or so airmen strong aerial defense force is headquartered in the nation's capital Sarajevo, with annexes at both of the country's international airports.

The group was founded from sub-groups of soldiers, airmen, and other personnel from the Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska Air Force. Quite a few long-winded titles in Balkan countries, it would seem. We won't get into the specifics of how this rag-tag Air Force got its genesis. Our goal is to showcase the aircraft of this small but furious aerial fighting force.

As you'll come to find, the Bosnian Air Force, as we'll mercifully call it from now on, isn't an Air Force in the traditional sense. If your idea of an Air Force is powerful jet fighters, bombers, attack planes, and all the advanced gadgets and beep boops you'd think come with the territory.

Bosnian Air Force
Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Fair Use)
As it happens, the Bosnian Air Force doesn't currently field any fixed-wing aircraft, jet or otherwise. We can only assume in such a small, mostly land-locked apart from a small portion country has little use of miles-long runways and even bigger airbases.

Instead, their fleet consists of tactical transport and cargo helicopters whose mission is to transport troops and equipment around the small nation as quickly as possible. Be it to defend against its ex Yugoslavian neighbor nations or some other threat.

To get an idea of the Bosnian Air Forces strategic doctrine, just take a look at their insignia, which literally sports a Bell UH-1 Iroquois on the front of it. It's uncannily beautiful, if we're honest, in a very cheesy but charming way.

The iconic American light transport chopper of Vietnam War fame is still in service with the Bosnian Air Force even six decades or more after they left the Bell factory in the U.S. The type serves much the same role it did with the American Army, Navy, and Marines.

Bosnian Air Force
Photo: World & Military Police Force
That being a light cargo and medical evacuation transport chopper small enough to fit on an aircraft carrier but tough enough for a Balkan nation that's very possibly still covered in land mines. Still, it could be worse. It could be Kosovo.

Quips about land mines in Eastern European countries aside, the Bosnian Air Force also sports an iconic Russian Copter in its ranks, the Mil Mi-8. The jumbo-sized, twin-turbine helicopter's been a favorite of Soviet and Ex-Soviet pilots since the early 1960s.

When the UH-1 by itself is insufficient for a troop transport mission, the Mi-8 fills the gaps very nicely. Furthermore, the Mi-8 is up there with the Iroquouis and its variants as some of the most numerously produced helicopters on the planet. A good thing when your national economy can get dicey at times.

Rounding out the Bosnian Air Forces helicopter fleet is a group of Aérospatiale Gazelles leftover from the Republika Srpska Air Force days. This light attack, observation, and liaison aircraft Bosnian officers want to use to get around quickly on a battlefield.

Bosnian Air Force
Photo: Mialvia.net
Fast and agile, light helicopters of the same type as the Gazelle are notoriously difficult for fast jet fighters to shoot down. While also being capable of carrying machine guns and rocket pods. Not bad for such a cute little helicopter.

If all else fails, the Bosnian Air Force has been spotted flying an ex-Russian Mil-17 heavy-duty helicopter capable of carrying multiple different types of the ordinance. Including air to air and air to ground missiles, unguided rockets, machine guns, and cluster bombs. This is all without mentioning their plethora of anti-air defensive weapons borrowed from both the Russians and Americans.

Their arsenal consists of everything from shoulder-firing Stinger missiles to the Russian 9K35 Strela-10 short-range SAM missile. Added support in the form of nearly 50 40mm anti-aircraft cannons and ZU-23 AA batteries make for a force that's not to be trifled with. It's all in support of a Bosnian Ground Force that's liable to fight like lions if you tick them off sufficiently. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it's all about the "Artiljerija" (Artillery), as they call it.
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