An oil refinery in Pančevo was bombed with several missiles, as were the nitrogen compound factory and the petrochemical products factory. An oil refinery in Novi Sad was bombed. Batajnica neighborhood in Belgrade was bombed. Most of the buildings in Batajnica were damaged by the force of the explosion. A residential neighborhood in Užice was bombed. A bridge and the Monastery of the Holy Mother of God in Kuršumlija were bombed. The northwestern part of Pristina and the village of Čičevica were bombed.

Operation of the Yugoslav Air Force at Tuzla Airport

When the aggression against Yugoslavia began, it was planned for the Yugoslav Army to be destroyed within 7-10 days to such an extent that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would be forced to sign an unconditional surrender. This plan also envisaged for Tuzla Airport to be mainly used for the landing of severely damaged airplanes that could not reach their home bases. Helicopters of rescue teams that would fly over to the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and rescue the pilots of potentially downed planes were also stationed at that airport. Since the plans of NATO strategists were not coming to fruition, the intensity of the bombing was to be increased. The strategy was changed then and, on April 8, eight fighter jets that were supposed to attack special targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia landed at Tuzla Airport.

Intelligence officers of the Yugoslav Army learned about this and, in the premises of the Air Force Command, started planning the attack on Tuzla Airport, since a large number of aircraft had concentrated there. At the said airport, there were 12 fighter jets damaged by the Yugoslav Air Defense, eight fighter-bombers that landed there a few days earlier, four rescue helicopters and several auxiliary aircraft and transport aviation aircraft.

A combined squadron of six Orao aircraft, two MIG 21 jets and one G-4 Galeb jet gathered at Ponikve Airport. Their mission was to reach Tuzla Airport, while flying at low altitude, and to destroy as many NATO aircraft as they can. On Sunday, April 18, 1999, at 13:30 hours, the Yugoslav Army aircraft suddenly attacked NATO aircraft, because at that time the radar at Tuzla Airport was turned off “due to a malfunction” (and in fact, due to sabotage by the Yugoslav Army’s Intelligence). The attack came as a total surprise because even the AWACS did not catch the Yugoslav Army’s aircraft on time and they were not spotted until they were only 10 kilometers away from Tuzla Airport, and at that point, it was too late for NATO aircraft to take off. Four NATO aircraft in pairs were ready to take off, but the Yugoslav aircraft had already started the attack before they managed to take off. This was an extremely risky operation, and even though the Yugoslav Army base notified the pilots that the aircraft had been spotted, none of them wanted to stop the operation.

According to Major Gavrilović, who was piloting one of the Orao aircraft, he dropped bombs on a group of damaged NATO aircraft that were standing all the way on the right side of the runway and turned his aircraft around in order to attack the helicopters again. Another three Orao aircraft followed him and dropped their payload on predetermined targets, while two other Orao aircraft stayed behind in order to fire precisely at the aircraft getting ready to take off and eight fighter jets that had arrived in Tuzla a few days earlier. Two MIG jets and one Galeb jet were finishing the job using missiles and machine guns.

Since several raids were carried out, the whole operation lasted about 15 minutes, after which one Orao aircraft, on its way back to Ponikve, was shot down by a missile launched from the ground and Lieutenant Mihajlo V. from Kragujevac was killed. The other eight aircraft returned to Ponikve Airport, except for one MIG jet, piloted by Major Željko M. from Novi Sad, who managed to land his aircraft (damaged by a missile launched from the ground) 10 kilometers away from the runway of Ponikve Airport.

It has been confirmed that 17 aircraft and three rescue helicopters were destroyed in the bombing of Tuzla Airport. However, some other unofficial sources, which were able to see for themselves the consequences of this attack, say that 21 aircraft and three helicopters were destroyed and that at least two transport aircraft and a significant part of the equipment were destroyed in chain explosions. NATO was particularly enraged by the deaths of 11 officers, pilots and aircraft attendants. Yet, what is even more important is the fact that until the end of NATO aggression, the Tuzla Airport was never again used for combat aircraft missions against Yugoslavia.

That very day NATO conducted an unprecedented bombing campaign on Ponikve Airport, dropping over 80 missiles on that airport in just one day. The entire airport was shaking from the explosions, but even such a massive bombing attack did not seriously damage the vital installations at the airport and, thus, it remained in operation until the end of NATO aggression.

The bombings of Ponivke Airport were repeated periodically because NATO could not locate the place where the Yugoslav Army was hiding its aircraft. As a retaliation for the militarily-clean operation in Tuzla, for three days in a row, NATO aviation targeted Užice and its surrounding areas, as well as the urban center of Užice, when three missiles hit the Main Post Office building in the town center.