The Commander of the 91st Air Base Lt. Col. Željko Ninić took off on his first flight with Barak from the Ramat David Base to Haifa, crossing the Dead Sea, turned south towards Jerusalem via Tel Aviv to return to the Base. He was accompanied by another aircraft, and the two performed manoeuvres (breaks, interception; air c ombat, engaging ground targets).
The date 9 April 2018 will be a day to remember for Lt. Col. Željko Ninić, the Commander of the 91st Air Base of the Croatian Air Force, as he was the first Croat to fly the F-16 Barak MFA, procured by the Croatian Ministry of Defence from the State of Israel.
He first tested the equipment and and made a pre-flight check of the aircraft, the airspace and the getting acquainted with the plane, airspace and route. He was particularly glad about the opportunity to use the DASH (Display and Sight) helmet, which transmits the key dana during the flight, offering the pilot from the rear the same view as in the front one.
The flight lasted for 44 minutes; Lt. Col. Ninić displayed the pride over flying the superior aircraft with whose specifics he was delighted stressing that it was the most powerful aircraft he had ever flown and said he was glad his colleagues were soon to fly them too
Lt. Col. Ninić and the Israeli pilot exchanged flags to confirm partnership and friendship of Israel and Croatia. He also commended his Israeli colleague’s co-operativity, professionalism and the assistance provided, who in his turn praised the Croatian pilot’s expert values and good knowledge of Israel.
The use of the F-16 aircraft is new for the Croatian Air Force, but it can rely with that on Israel, whose pilots have flown it for years and intend to keep it for another decade. The age of the aircraft is not foremost criterion for them but its operational value. respect fully meet their expectations. They believe that the Croatian pilots will soon share their satisfaction .
The Croatian “Top Gun“ – flying eight aircraft types
Lt. Col Ninić was born in Brčko (B&H) in Brčko, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1974, where he lived for 17 years and graduated from the public school in Velika Gorice, where he found home as a refugee.
As a fervent patriot and aviation fan, Lt. Col. Ninić was not the least in doubt as to his future profession – he enrolled at the Faculty of Transfort and Traffic Engineering Department of Aeronautics) and graduated as the third best student of the second generation of military pilot cadets of the Croatian Air Force, earning the award from the Croatian President Dr. Franjo Tuđman.
Having earned the degree Lt. Col. Ninić also graduated as flying instructor from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and also took conversion training to fly the MiG-21 aircraft. The posts in his career include the representative of the Republic of Croatia in NATO’s Panel on Air and Mission Defence, the Commander ofthe Fighter Aircraft Squadron, the Chief of Staff of the 91st 91st Air Base of the Croatian Air Force. He has exercised the duty of the 91st Air Base since 1 January 2018.
Lt. Col. Ninić is one of the few members of the Croatian Air Force who worked in the three air bases . the three airbases: the former 92nd Air Base in Pula, the 93rd Air Base at Zemunik and the 91st Air Base at Pleso, and also flew various aircraft types – the F-14 Tomcat, the MiG-29 M2, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the JAS-39 Gripen, the FA-50 Fighting Eagle, the L-39 Albatros, the L-159 Alca and the F-16 Barak.
The message to future military pilots
”My message to the young people is to take the challenge and join the Croatian Air Force. MIlitary pilot is a vocation and love. Because of the adrenaline rush you experience every time you fly the job is so dynamic and you cannot get fed up throughout your career. Each flight is different. Depending on weather conditions, the hour, the mission itself mand a number of other conditions affecting it“.