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State-Owned Military Plants in the Competition for the Overhaul of the Bulgarian Air Force’s Mi-17 and Mi-24V

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Photo credit: Defpost.com

SOFIA, Bulgaria, (BulgarianMilitary.com) – According to the information and documentation, published on the Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry website, related to the tender for the general overhaul of the Bulgarian Air Force’s Mi-17 transport and Mi-24V combat helicopters, it becomes clear that there are four competitors that have submitted documents for the current procurement. These are the Bulgarian state-owned aircraft repair plant Avionams, TEREM, as well as the Ukrainian aerospace company Motor Sich and the Belarusian state-owned Foreign Trade Unitary Enterprise Belspetsvneshtechnika, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

The tender for the repair of two Mi-17 and four Mi-24V helicopters has been launched at the end of July by the the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence and the deadline for the offers was due to September. The value of the procurement is 31 million levs ($18.5 million). It particularly refers to the signing of two separate framework agreements for every of the two types of helicopters. The winner will be expected to complete the general overhaul in the period of forty-eight months.

Avionams has submitted documents only for the repair of the two Mi-17 aircraft, while the other three participants’ documents have been for the overhaul of the both helicopters.

The Bulgarian Army continues to rely on its aging Russian helicopters. Previously the service used Mi-17 for the extinguishing of forest fires, but in June the last capable of flying helicopter crashed, leaving two people death. According to data from the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence, the Bulgarian helicopter fleet at the moment is in extremely bad condition. Of all the Army’s 28 helicopters, at the moment only eight fly, in particular of the five M-17, there is no one operational and of the five Mi-24 only one flies, of the twelve Cougar aircraft– fly three or four and of Bell – three. Compared to their NATO member states colleagues, the Bulgarian military pilots are to much more endangered by incidents, due to the lack of good equipment.

Read more: Only “558 ARP” Has Submitted Documents for the Bulgarian Su-25 Overhaul

Read more: Debts of Avionams at about BGN 15 Million Are on Sale

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Source: Mediapool.bg

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Bulgarian Military News

Sweden Remains Open to Negotiation with Bulgaria on Gripen Fighters

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Photo credit: Saabgroup.com

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com)  – Sweden remains ready to negotiate on the Gripen fighters in the procedure of selecting a new type of combat aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Forces, according to the official position of the Director Export and International Relations  of Swedish Defence Material Administration  (FMV) Joakim Wallin voiced today, learned  BulgarianMilitary.com

“We respect the decision of the Bulgarian Parliament on the process of acquiring a new type of combat aircraft, but we are convinced that the Swedish offer brings more advantages to Bulgaria.”

Read more: Bulgaria Starts Negotiating with the U.S. on the F-16 Purchase After Parliamentary Approval

Sweden believes that Gripen is the best option for Bulgaria and our Air Force, saying the fighter is the most advanced combat aircraft that have been proven in joint NATO missions.

“Gripen is manufactured in Europe, fully compatible with NATO standards and it has low costs throughout its lifespan. Moreover, Sweden offers a fully compatible package of 10 fighters,” emphasizes Joakim Wallin and adds that, along with the necessary armament and equipment, the offer is under the EUR 767 million budget originally approved by the Bulgarian Parliament.

The representative of Swedish Defence Material Administration notes that the report of the MoD expert group states that Gripen features the best operational capabilities. Such a partnership will bring benefits to Bulgarian society as a result of the deepening cooperation between the two countries

Read more: SAAB Gripen Played its Trump Card for the Deal of New Bulgarian Fighter Jets

Sweden has already rejected that the purchase of new Gripen fighters will exceed the budget if all the equipment and armament required for aircraft to be multifunctional, are acquired through concluding contracts with third countries. According to the Bulgarian analysis, SAAB offers fighter aircraft for Air Policing.

The Swedish Defence Material Administration says that it continues to monitor the process and remains available for further talks if Bulgaria wants to hold such.

The Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov announced earlier that if negotiations with the U.S. fail, Bulgaria will start talks with Sweden. However, the deal is expected to be concluded quickly with the U.S.

Read more: Lockheed Martin: We Will Support Our New Bulgarian Partners

Today, the Business Development Director for the F-16 Program at Lockheed Martin James Robinson stated that if Bulgaria decides to purchase 16 F-16 fighters, the second 8 aircraft will be at a much lower price than the first batch.

He added that no update of avionics and computers would be needed for decades, and the maintenance will be carried out by the Bulgarian Air Force at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base. At the same time, the training of the Bulgarian pilots is also included in the contract – it will be conducted in the U.S.

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Sources: News.bg, Mediapool

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Lockheed Martin: We Will Support Our New Bulgarian Partners

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Photo credit: Pan.bg

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Yesterday, in a special press release sent to the media, the U.S. company Lockheed Martin expressed its readiness to support the Bulgarian government in the forthcoming negotiations with the U.S. government on the purchase of new fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

“We will continue to support the U.S. Government and our new Bulgarian partners during the contract negotiations,” said James Robinson, Business Development Director for the F-16 Program at Lockheed Martin.

International Business Development Director for the F-16 Program at Lockheed Martin James Robinson | Photo Credit: Amcham.bg

We recall that yesterday (16th January), the Bulgarian Parliament voted and adopted the F-16 to be the choice of a combat aircraft for our army and to start negotiations with the U.S. 

Read more: Bulgaria Starts Negotiating with the U.S. on the F-16 Purchase After Parliamentary Approval

The procedure was not easy and it took almost two years for the Bulgarian government to take this decision. It even led to restarting and starting the entire process at the very beginning. In the spring of 2017, the caretaker government’s working commission for the selection of a new combat aircraft chose Gripen of the Swedish company SAAB, but then, the newly-elected parliament and the new government respectively stopped the negotiation process and launched a new procedure.

“Lockheed Martin welcomes the decision of the Bulgarian National Assembly to initiate negotiations to acquire the new F-16 Block 70 aircraft. The F-16 fighters fully meet the defence needs of Bulgaria and NATO, and the country’s Air Force will acquire the most advanced 4th-generation fighter in the Alliance. The Bulgarian economy and industry will benefit from this new long-term relationship with the global technology leader Lockheed Martin,” the U.S. company’s press release says further.

Read more: Bulgaria Can Play an Essential Role in F-16 Maintenance

There are still a lot of vague details about the upcoming deal. For example, what will be the price that we will pay under this contract, because the statements and comments so far, by representatives of the Bulgarian political elite as well as by representatives of the U.S. company, make it clear that the money pledged in the budget will not be enough.

Also, Lockheed Martin has already unequivocally confirmed in recent months that the first fighters will not be delivered within the deadline required by the Bulgarian government – up to 24 months.

Read more: The Equipment and Capacity of the U.S. F-16 Block 70 Offered to Bulgaria

The F-16 Block 70 is a 4th-generation aircraft of the legendary F-16, but there is no model of it manufactured so far. Before us, in the queue is the Royal Bahraini Air Force that ordered 16 aircraft of this model, and in the middle of last year the Government of the Slovak Republic decided to replace 14 of its MiG-29 with F-16 Block 70.

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Source: Lockheed Martin

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Bulgaria Starts Negotiating with the U.S. on the F-16 Purchase After Parliamentary Approval

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Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Тoday, after holding a heated debates, Bulgaria’s Parliament, in the end, approved the government’s proposal to start negotiations with the U.S. on the purchase of new F-16V Block 70 fighters as well as the future contract to deviate from the Bulgarian requirements. The cabinet’s proposal was voted today as the first item on the agenda, and it was adopted with the key support of MRF MPs, after the parliamentary groups of BSP and PP Volya, Ataka and NFSB voted against, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

Read more: Bulgaria’s Government Proposes to the Parliament a Plan to Start Talks with the U.S. on the Purchase of F-16

This allows the negotiations between the Bulgarian Government and the U.S. on the purchase of the aircraft to be more flexible. The Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov explained that if they are unsuccessful, talks with Sweden on Gripen fighters, will be held.

Yesterday, it became clear that the government’s proposal has been approved by the parliamentary committees on Defence and Budget and Finance. The Defence Committee meeting was closed despite the BSP’s request to postpone it. BSP MPs stated they were not familiar with all the documents related to the preparation of the project.

Read more: Bulgaria’s Government Assures the Procedure for the Acquisition of a New Type of Fighter is Transparent  

In addition to the start of negotiations with the U.S., the Cabinet proposes the future contract to “deviate” from the Bulgaria’s current requirements, which has lead to a lot of criticism. So far, the estimated cost is up to BGN 1.8 billion (with VAT), but the U.S. bid exceeds it. There is also a requirement, for the first fighters to be delivered within two years after the contract conclusion, which the U.S. company cannot meet for now.

By passing the government’s proposal, the Parliament provides, except a cost increase, and an opportunity for the first F-16s to be delivered later than 2 years after the signing the deal.

Read more: Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Sees Budget Increase as One of the Possible Scenarios in the New Fighter Acquisition Procedure

One of the issues possible for discussion during the negotiations is a new payment scheme. Bulgaria insists on a long-term payment scheme, but it is possible with a sanction by the Ministry of Finance, to pay the fighters in a shorter period of time.

Karakachanov confirmed the unofficial information released earlier that the U.S. bid exceeds the price ceiling by less than BGN 300 million. The Defence Minister, however, expects a lower price to be negotiated during the talks, as the U.S. officials have promised such. According to him a price deviation can be negotiated only within the parameters of the already submitted offer by the U.S. “We have a price ceiling and we have assurance that it won’t be exceeded.”

Read more: The Equipment and Capacity of the U.S. F-16 Block 70 Offered to Bulgaria

The Defence Minister commented that he expects the procedure to be completed and a contract to be signed within the period of 3-4 months, although the practice shows that such inter-state negotiations continue longer. He noted that there was no such a procedure under which a military contract between two governments could be appealed in international institutions and courts.

The first meeting in the negotiation process will be held between Bulgaria’s Defence Minister and the U.S. Secretary of Defence in mid-February, in Brussels.

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Sources: Mediapool, BTA

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Bulgaria’s Government Assures the Procedure for the Acquisition of a New Type of Fighter is Transparent

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Photo credit: Aeropress-bg.com

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com)The Chairman of the parliamentary group of PP GERB, Tsvetan Tsvetanov envisages that the Government’s proposal to start negotiations with the U.S. on the purchase of 8 F-16s will be approved  by the Parliament. This, he stated on Sunday, in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

According to him, the plan, approved by the Council of Ministers last week, “is the most optimal option possible and something that our country could be proud of in decades. This is a security investment.”

Read more: Bulgaria’s Government Proposes to the Parliament a Plan to Start Talks with the U.S. on the Purchase of F-16

Tsvetanov recalled that the final decision was political, but also stressed on the importance of a transparent procedure. He rejected the criticism from the opposition party BSP and the leader of NFSB Valery Simeonov that are against the start of negotiations with the U.S. referring to the fact that the procedure for the acquisition is not transparent. The PP GERB chairman reminded also that the previous decision, to be selected the Swedish fighters, was canceled precisely for that reason and then a new procedure was launched.

He pointed out as an advantage that the U.S. offer does not include hidden costs, thus Bulgaria will not have to acquire anything through separate contracts with third countries or licenses from other governments.

Read more: The Equipment and Capacity of the U.S. F-16 Block 70 Offered to Bulgaria

In another interview for Nova TV, in response to a question whether the Parliament is not going to become untenable, by contradicting its previous decisions on fighters acquisition, Tsvetanov said that the current procedure is the most transparent – with a working group, a report, a decision by the Council of Ministers and debate in the Parliament.

About the F-16, he explained that the fighter is fully equipped and can be integrated to support the defence capabilities of both the country’s national security and NATO comprehensive approach. Tsvetanov pointed out that the F-16 is in service with 10 NATO and EU member states, while Gripen is only in Hungary and the Czech Republic. “If we choоse Gripen, there must be a third country from which to buy the appropriate armament and to receive the licenses,” he explained further.

Read more: The Lockheed Martin`s F-16 Is the Bulgarian Choice for New Fighters. Negotiations with the United States Start

This week the National Assembly is expected to vote on Government’s proposal to start negotiations with the U.S. and the future contract to “deviate” from the Bulgarian mandatory requirements so far. The Cabinet has the assurance of the White House that the price of fighters will be reduced during the negotiations. Besides the parliamentary groups of BSP and PP Volya, Ataka and NFSB are also against the decision. The assumption is that the proposal will be approved with the support of GERB, IMRO and MRF.

“The fact that we start negotiations does not mean that there is a contract. There is a subsequent ratification, and in order to approve it, the government has a lot of work to do and in the end to propose something to the Parliament, so the process is not finished at all, ” commented the Chair of Bulgaria’s Parliamentary Defence Committee General Konstantin Popov for BNR.

Read more: Bulgaria Can Play an Essential Role in F-16 Maintenance

He warned that the “dramatization” over the topic could lead to a delay in the whole process as well as to a serious effect  not only on this project, but also on all other modernization projects of the Bulgarian army. Gen. Popov said that this week, there would be political debates in the Parliament, and the politicians will take a decision, but it will be on the basis of the expertise.

“We do not say that the basic requirements are dropped. We say that the government – what we have proposed and adopted – will have to bear its responsibility when it returns for ratification of a proposed contract or comes up with a proposal for negotiations with the next bidder,” the Chair of Bulgaria’s Parliamentary Defence Committee said further, adding that a comprehensive approach is needed and “Bulgaria should to take maximum advantage in all possible areas – also in the field of industrial cooperation.”

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Sources: News.bg, Mediapool

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