Members of the Slovenian and Macedonian air forces and air defence units were involved in the Challenge 2018 bilateral military exercise between September 28 and October 4. The manoeuvres took place at the Krivolak military training range near Negotino in Macedonia.
The exercise focused on ground-attack operations conducted in close co-ordination with Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) as well as air defence operations against aerial targets. Around 100 members of the Brigada zračne obrambe in letalstva (BRZOL, Slovenian Air Defence and Aviation Brigade) – an integral part of the Slovenska Vojska (SV, Slovenian Armed Forces) – were deployed to Petrovec air base near Skopje and to the Krivolak range.
Challenge 2018 saw the deployment to Petrovec of three Pilatus PC-9M Hudournik (swift) advanced training and close air support turboprops (serials L9-65/638, L9-66/639 and L9-68/641) of the 152. Letalska eskadrilja (152. LEESK, 152nd Fixed-wing Squadron) stationed at Cerklje ob Krki air base, located some 80km east of Ljubljana near the border with Croatia.
Each Slovenian PC-9M landed at Petrovec with four 154-lit fuel tanks and a laser rangefinder pod under the wings. A number of Mk82 (227kg) general-purpose bombs were also deployed for their operations at Krivolak.
Also deployed to Krivolak were the BRZOL’s IAI Elta EL/M-2106NG – a 3D, 400W L-band mobile air defence radar – and a number of 9K338 Igla-S (SA-24 Grinch) man-portable infrared-homing surface-to-air missile systems that were successfully used during the live-firing activities. Igor Bozinovski