Military Trends for Balkans & East Med in 2017

Last year Croatian Air Force got 16 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters - (c) Croatian MoD
When a new year starts, defense analysts usually try to predict the main events to come. Trying to do so, the following document covers the crucial region of the Balkans and East Med.

To begin with the Balkan Peninsula, Serbia has signed the first part of the Russian arm package by agreeing to get and upgrade six second-hand MiG-29 fighter planes, thirty T-72 MBTs and thirty BDRM-2 recce vehicles. At the same time, a contract was signed with Airbus for six H-145M utility helicopters, while a donation of four extra choppers cannot be excluded. It is highly possible for Belgrade to continue the talks for obtaining SA-11B or SA-17 SAMs inside 2017, as to retire the legacy SA-3 and SA-6 systems. Croatia upgraded her ISR capabilities with the addition of sixteen OH-58D helicopters. It is very possible Zagreb to select its new fighter aircraft until the end of the year. Bosnia-Herzegovina plans to decrease her military active personnel and Slovenia tries to hire new professional soldiers via giving financial motives. Montenegro awaits to become a full NATO member-state. 

Romania selected to equip her army with an indigenous, customised Boxer fighting vehicle - (c) Rheinmentall Defence
In the previous year, Romania got her first nine F-16AM/BM fighter aircrafts, selected the SIGMA 10514 as her new light frigate and Agilis [which appears to be a modified indigenous version of Boxer] wheeled fighting vehicle. In 2017 Bucharest might order twelve more F-16s, a new utility helicopter and select the company that will modernize the Τype 22R frigates. Bulgaria is about to start her three biggest military programs: new fighter aircraft, new patrol vessel and new infantry fighting vehicle. Not much is known for Albania and FYROM, except from a US desire to donate HUMVEE vehicles to the Albanian Army.

This year is very essential for Altay MTB as a contract is going to be awarded by Turkey for 250 units - (c) Otokar
Vastly affected from the financial crisis, Greece tries to get US second-hand military equipment like M270 rocket launchers and OH-58D helicopters. The biggest decision maybe to be made in 2017, is the upgrade of a (still unknown) F-16 fighter aircraft number to Viper version. Cyprus is going to get an Israeli made OPV, but everything else seems to depend at the peace talks taking place under the authorization of UN. Turkey targets strategical gains in East Med and Syria, with the new year appearing crucial for the main indigenous projects (Altay MBT, TF-100 frigate, TF-X fighter plane). Except from the ongoing internal anti-guerilla war versus PKK, Turkey invaded Syrian territory at 24th August 2016 as to create a buffer zone between YPG controlled areas and simultaneously support Turkmen local militia against ISIS. The army has lost around 24 modern MBTs, a similar number of armored vehicles and around 45 personnel.

Both Egyptian Navy's Mistral vessels are in active service - (c) Egyptian MoD
In East Med, Egypt will obtain the first of the new Type 209 submarines and new Gowind 2500 light frigates. The Egyptian Air Force will get the first MiG-29M/M2 fighter planes and Ka-52 attack helicopters. The previous year Egyptian Navy saw the delivery of two Mistral-class LHD ships and Egyptian Air Force got the SA-23 long range SAM systems. Israel pays attention in adopting new technology at its arsenal. Such a case were the delivery of the first two F-35I stealth fighters last December, and the plan for installation of Trophy/Iron Fist APS systems at the vast majority of armored vehicles. 

The new year finds Syria cut in five pieces and Syrian Army yet thin to totally control the western part of the country. It is still unknown if Russia delivers the MiG-29M/M2 and Yak-130 jet planes. The Russian detachment in Syria has orders to return home this year, so any surplus systems used now by them will be sold or donated to the Syrian Army. Lastly, Lebanon aims to remain a major recipient of US military aid despite any opposite complaints.