WARSAW, Poland --- The tiny nation of Montenegro is readying what will mark its first major military procurement as a member of the NATO Alliance.
One of six entities within the former Cold War-ear Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Montenegro inherited what limited military gear currently exists in its inventory following the demise of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and its break from union with Serbia to become a fully independent nation in June 2006. This inventory includes Soviet-legacy man-portable anti-tank systems (MANPATS), 12 pieces of 122mm towed artillery guns, multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) and some older Mil Mi-8T transport helicopters that are inoperable.
Upon admittance into NATO, Montenegrin officials unveiled plans to jump-start the re-equipment process of the nation's tiny military (consisting of 2,000 total personnel, including 875 Army troops). Among the cornerstone projects include helicopters, armored vehicles and radars, with all three combined carrying a price tag estimated at EUR110 million ($128 million).
These procurements are to be conducted through 2025, allowing the government to spread out the costs and gradually phase the new gear into service following necessary infrastructure improvements and logistical and crew training.
The first project moving forward involves the purchase of three Bell 412EPI twin-engine utility helicopters. The 412EPI beat out bids from Airbus Helicopters (offering its H145M) and Leonardo (AW139). A contract is expected to be signed in early 2018.