The US has approved $110 million for the purchase of weapons, within the framework of a program aimed at replacing the Soviet era combat systems with weapons system of Western origin in the countries of the Western Balkans.
According to the Balkan Security Network (www.balkansec.net) portal, the Pentagon will partly finance the procurement of combat vehicles for the Croatian Army and the Army of Northern Macedonia and multi-purpose helicopters for the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.
In the fiscal year 2017, the US Government launched the European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP) program with an initial $190 million budget to help the governments of six Eastern European nations replace Soviet arms from their arsenal with Western armaments.
Bosnia's Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina have in their possession a Soviet Mi-8 helicopter, inherited from the Republika Srpska entity's Army and a Mi-8MTV-1 from the Federation entity's Army.
The Army of Republika Srpska is the wartime army of the Serb-dominated part of the country which fought against Bosniak and Croat forces – the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croat Defence Council. The three armed formations disappeared when Bosnia’s leaders decided to melt all armed forces in Bosnia into one – Bosnia's Armed Forces.
The reform process was mediated by the High Representative, the international community’s top administrator in Bosnia, installed to oversee the implementation of the Peace Agreement that ended the conflict of the early 1990s.
Soon after the reform, the country was offered to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace, which its authorities accepted. However, the road to the full membership in the alliance has been in a deadlock for years mostly due to rejection of authorities of the Serb-led entity.
The US earmarked $30 million for Bosnia, but this amount is barely enough to buy one or possibly two medium transport helicopters of the American or Western origin. However, it is possible to repair and modernize the used UH-60 Black Hawk or Super Puma helicopters.
The portal wrote that everything started as a consequence of tensions in the relations between the West and Russia, which prompted Washington to launch a funding program that will prompt Eastern NATO members to begin to change the Soviet and Russian weapons with equipment of Western origin.
The countries of the former Eastern Bloc, as well as Greece and Turkey, which have been in NATO for almost 70 years, continue to use significant quantities of Soviet arms, making NATO exercises held in Central and Eastern Europe look like war games from the Warsaw Pact.