In December, Bulgaria’s government said that it has approved the defense ministry’s intention to increase its expenditure by $914,200 to ensure the overhaul of the country’s aging fleet of Russian-made MiG-29s.
Bulgaria is in talk with Russia to activate the penalty clause for part of the agreement, it turns out that Russia will not be able to complete the implementation of the entire agreement in time, learned GDC citing SeeNews.
The Bulgarian Air Force currently has 19 MiG-29 fighter jets, of which 15 will be maintained airworthy by 2029 under a contract signed with their manufacturer Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, according to the notice.
Apart from the MiG-29, Bulgaria also signed an agreement with Belarus for the repair of the Su-25, but the Bulgarian Minister of Defense Karakachanov said that the Belarusian managed in time and there are no remarks about them so far, after Minsk returned two repaired Su-25 weeks ago.
The deal, signed on December 11, 2019, envisages the extension of the engines’ time between overhauls (TBO) by 50 flight hours, the defense ministry said in a notice. The project will allow Bulgaria to fulfil its Air Policing duties within NATO.
Bulgaria’s defense ministry said on Friday it would repair six of its 19 Soviet-built MiG-29 fighter planes in Poland, in a move to reduce its dependence on Russia.
“Bulgaria and Poland express their strong political will for cooperation especially about the maintenance of the MiG-29 fighters,” the defense ministry said in a statement after the signing of a letter of intent with Warsaw.
The repairs will be performed at the Polish state company WZL-2. In a move to bypass the Russians, the defense ministry turned to Poland.
In the meantime, RSK MiG’s representative in Bulgaria Alexander Alexandrov argued in the Bulgarian press that the Polish company did not have a license for the repairs. SK MiG’s representative in Bulgaria Alexander Alexandrov said that Mikoyan Design Bureau does not have enough capacity to build spare parts and Klimov cannot produce RD-33 engine anymore due the development of RD-93 engine for China.
Bulgaria’s Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev did not comment while the statement only said that Bulgaria has received guarantees from Poland about the quality of the repairs.
This is the fourth contract under a four-year framework agreement for the maintenance of MiG-29 fighter jets worth up to 21 million euro signed with Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG in March 2018, the ministry said. The agreement envisages integrated logistics support of 15 fighter jets of the Bulgarian Air Force – 12 MiG-29A and three MiG-29UB trainers – for a total of 1,450 flight hours per year.
In 2019, Bulgaria paid $1.2 billion for the delivery of eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets along with the related equipment and weapons from the U.S. The deal envisages the delivery of six single-seat F-16 jets and two two-seat aircraft used for training, as well as supply of weapons for the jets, Sidewinder AIM 9Х Block II missiles, and a multifunctional information distribution system joint tactical radio system (MIDS JTRS).
The first F-16 fighter jets are expected to be delivered to Bulgaria by the end of 2022.
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