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Can Israel keep its position as one of the top UAS exporter?

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Can Israel keep its position as top UAS exporter?
Heron UAS by IAI | Photo credit: Georges Seguin

JERUSALEM, Israel (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The saying “Troubles come in packages” has been recently proven to be very true.

An Israeli company lost two major tenders for the supply of advanced UAS. The total loss is estimated at 1.2 billion U.S $. But that is just the introduction to a very serious issue that Israeli companies have and will have to deal with in the coming years.

The fact that Israeli companies make some of the best, combat proven UAV’s, does not ensure that these will continue to be selected by foreign countries.

Unmanned air systems (UAS) have become a very important item in the defence items shopping lists of countries around the world.

Since 1985, Israel has accounted one of the main UAV exports worldwide. Despite China’s move into armed UAV exports, it only supplied 0.9% of total exports during this last couple of decades.

Can Israel keep its position as one of the top UAS exporter?

Can Israel keep its position as top UAS exporter?

Significant Global Demand Pushes UAV Sales to Exceed $82 Billion over Next 10 Years. Source: IHS Markit

Well, this is becoming more complicated from month to month. This, due to factors that some can be controlled by Israel, while others are not in the country’s influence “foot print”. The open war between the two major Israeli UAS manufacturers has a very strong impact. Some years ago, the Israeli ministry of defence has withdrawn the export permits to Poland held by the two majors Israeli UAS manufacturers – Israel aerospace industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems.

Read more: VMZ Sopot Will Produce UAVs Based on Israeli Technology

The decision was taken after a fight between the two Israeli companies resulted in resignation of then Poland’s Deputy Minister of Defense.

When the details emerged, the Polish press said that he was forced to resign for internal reasons. But the competition between Elbit Systems and IAI for the sale of UAV’s to the Polish Army, which got out of control, was a contributing factor.

This is one example to the problems Israel faces in its attempt to keep its top place in the exporting countries list.

Another example – last year the Israeli foreign ministry blocked the sale of UAS to Ukraine. This to avoid any negative effect on the Russian -Israeli relations. Since the armed conflict between Russia and the Ukraine has started and intensified, the Ukraine has expressed its urgent need for some types of Israeli made UAS. Negotiations began with some Israeli manufacturers and at least one has reached a very advanced stage. The foreign ministry’s step was a result of Israel’s effort not to provoke Moscow. In recent years, Israel has asked Moscow again and again to avoid selling weapon systems, mainly advanced surface – air missiles to Iran and Syria.

The situation has completely changed following the so called “Iran nuclear” agreement, and the war in Syria. Moscow is now supplying Iran with arms of all types and Syria, or what was left from this country, is flooded with Russian weapons systems, that are being operated by Russians with Syrian personnel “in the area”.

These two examples and there are many more , show that the number of Israeli made UAV’s exported to foreign countries, does not depend only on their quality and price.

And while in most of the competing countries the government helps the local industries to market their products. Israeli politicians, refrain from doing it, even when it is clear that the decision will be made based on political reasons, and not on the quality or the price of the system.

Read more: The Acquisition of IMI Systems by Elbit Systems Has Been Finalised

But something else is lacking – Israel as a state has not made any move to fortify the status of the local UAS industry. This lack of macro thinking will have a very bad effect in the future.
U.S companies are now competing on tenders that previously were considered “Marginal” money wise.

“Now we find American companies in almost every competition„ a source in the ministry of defence said.

And while this happens in the U.S, in Israel there are no signs that the government has even looked at the issue. Instead, the situation in Israel causes almost an endless war between the different UAS manufacturers, with some reaching a point where it’s hard for them to survive.

While the market is flooded with different UAS , and while not any potential customer needs the “combat proven ” systems, manufacturers in many countries , especially China manage to export their products while the Israeli companies still fight against each other and when in most cases , their systems are not cleared for export.

Earlier this year, a very fierce fight between Israel and the U.S about the sale of advanced UAV to Germany, ended with an Israeli victory. The German parliament has approved the € 1 billion deal to lease Heron-TP UAVs manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The approval put an end to a long and twisted saga caused by a mixture of competition and politics.

Can Israel keep its position as top UAS exporter?

Photo credit: Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany. Source: Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE) (via Flickr)

The vote was made after a heated discussion within the coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, following the objections of several of its members to purchase UAVs that may carry armaments.

The deal includes a payment of € 720 million to Airbus Defense and Space, which will lease 7 UAVs from IAI (five for missions and two for training), and another € 177 million to be transferred to the Israeli government for use at airports, And supervision and support and maintenance services.

The Heron -TP is designed to enable the German army to perform long endurance intelligence gathering missions. This until a Euro-Drone is developed in partnership with France, Italy, and Spain.

The German high court earlier this year, rejected the General Atomics appeal that was filed after the Germans selected the Israeli made UAV.

General Atomics, that offered the MQ-9 Reaper appealed the selection. A lower court has rejected the American company’s appeal and the case was brought before a higher court.

The General Atomics appeal was based on the claim that the selection was made without a competition and that the Heron -TP is not in NATO’s inventory.

According to the Germans, the Heron TP is needed to protect and support the German Bundeswehr in deployed operations and will fill the gap between the currently used Heron 1 system and the future European MALE UAV.

And only recently IAI lost two competitions where is offered it Hero-TP – one in Belgium and the other in Australia. The two contracts are valued at 1.2 billion U.S $.

In the two countries the Israel UAV competed against the General Atomics MQ- 9 Reaper.

Read more: The US Army Will Operate Raytheon’s Coyote UAVs

Israeli sources say that the weight of politics is the two selection was critical.

So the Israeli companies face a new very complicated situation. While the Israeli ministry of defence has recently eased the export regulations of Israeli made defence systems, including UAV’s, this is not enough.

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Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

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Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached
Grenade launcher RPG-7 photographed in Syria | Picture by Andrea DiCenzo

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Do not be under a delusion. Bulgaria is not such an important factor in the UN and NATO, despite our membership. Our country turned out to be in the right place at the right time as far as the international arms trade is concerned.

And although Bulgaria has neither breached the UN Arms Trade Treaty, nor threatened with its activities its NATO membership, the Bulgarian companies in the sector “military production” have been experiencing their Renaissance over the recent years, thanks to deals, breaching some major rules.

Background of ISIS
Everything began in 2006 after the murder of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, when the Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri succeeded him and renamed the terrorist organization to ISI – Islamic State of Iraq. Four years later Masri followed the destiny of Zarqawi and he was succeeded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi | Photo Credit: Washington Times

Within those years it also began the civil war in Syria and the chance ISI to become a large-scale terrorist organization was available. ISI started war with the Syrian army, taking advantage of the situation in the country and this led to the control over large territories. In those years, the name was changed and the latest terrorism was already called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

Years of progress of ISIS followed, and the emblematic places of Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq were already under “their possession.”
Now we ask ourselves – why CIA and GRU did not make a military-political analysis of the emerging terrorist group right from the very beginning, provided that there were sufficient reasons for that to happen.

Or maybe they did!?

How the USA created Black Sea Road
In the years when a civil war ranged in Syria on one hand, and ISIS rampaged with its laws on the other hand, the United States and Russia saw different opportunities. The United States wanted to overthrow one more “dictator”, Russia – to retain the legitimately elected president. This, however, is the version for the public.

In fact, the USA saw the unique opportunity to oppose to the Russian Federation by increasing the existing in the region conflict, by which to disturb planned big arms supplies of RosOboronExport. However, it could not do that directly and that is why it had to create the so called Black Sea Road, i.e. a way in which to do what they had planned, and namely – armament and training of the National Army for the Liberation of Syria, which, through American money, to oppose the Syrian dictator Assad. They knew that Russia would support the government of Syria, through which it would enter a “research mode” from a distance of thousands miles.

An increase of the US military budgets followed in the next years, as well as purchases of weapons and ammunition on a mass scale from the former socialist countries, including Bulgaria.

Black Sea Road has an elementary logic – in order to be saved big expenses for transportation of weapons and some “international legal obstacles” to be avoided, the Pentagon purchases weapons from the former socialist countries, and by using Bulgaria and Romania as a distribution hub, it transports them to Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait. On its part, the latter three countries equipped the rebel forces in Syria through which they extended their existence.

But in order the picture to be complete, big part of those weapons fell into the hands of ISIS. The reasons for that are a lot, but the most important one seems to be the Islamization of a big part of the then service members and their desert to the terrorism. And they did that with the weapons, which were assigned to them.

Islamization, which was again slumbered away by Russia and the United States. Was it?!

How Bulgaria benefited from that whole cycle?
If you think that it is about ten or twenty million dollars, you do not know the ideological dimensions of the idea of maintaining exactly that conflict. The Pentagon, though its subdivisions and companies, has bought weapons and ammunition, only from Bulgaria, at the total amount of $243 million, and our country is within the top positions of the foreseen for the purpose $2.2 billion.

Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

The pentagon`s Arms Spending Spree For Syrian Rebels | Source: OCCRP

As of the moment, it has been spent $718 million from the whole planned budget, and only one US company Picatinny Arms has prepared contracts at the amount of approximately $900 million more.

In this way, the Bulgarian companies in the defence sector have a serious market without having wanted it. Of course, all this would not have been a problem, if a big part of the Bulgarian arms were not found in the hands of the defeated military squads of ISIS.

The interpretations whether Bulgaria is guilty or not are useless. We will not save you the answer. You will just find it in the lines below.

Who gave Bulgarian arms in the hands of the terrorists?
We say that every day – America. But it seems that we have stopped using evidences. And there are such mainly against several American companies, as well as against companies from Saudi Arabia. But there are also serious evidences related to the Pentagon. Let’s review them one by one.

With the entering of ISIS in Syria, the USA developed a program for equipment of the Syrian rebels against Assad, which is called Syria Train and Equip. For the purpose, a big quantity of weapons and ammunition had to be purchased from the subdivision in the Pentagon – SOCOM (The Special operations command). SOCOM started even in October 2015 with the delivery of 50 tons of ammunition and missiles, and that was only the beginning. According to the report of the Organized Crime and Corruption Report Project (OCCRP), it followed a purchase of weapons and ammunition at the amount of $238 million from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.

According to the requirements of the Pentagon, “the list of purchases” continued to be filled in with thousands of AK-47s and RPGs.

Although, SOCOM was not included and acknowledged in the Syria Train and Equip Program, within a journalistic investigation, the Pentagon had to officially acknowledge that the subdivision in question had been really assigned the task for delivery of weapons and ammunition for the Syrian rebels.

SOCOM entangled in some more scandals with weapons, and the most obvious one was the purchase of 48 RPGs from VMZ Sopot. The problem is not that weapons have been bought, but the document, which is presented as “End User Certificate” (EUC`s). According to the approved international law, NATO standards and UN Arms Trade Treaty, that certificate has a specific structure, in which it shall be obligatorily mentioned two things – who the end user is and a declaration that the end user will not resell or transfer the purchased by it arms. However, SOCOM presents a questionable document, which does not at all guarantee that, and it even allows it. Thus, the Pentagon interprets its interest in its own way and drives to bay the UN and NATO member states.

Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

A side-by-side comparison of a “typical” end-user certificate, showing a clear end destination, and a misleading SOCOM certificate that allows the US to transfer weapons to any of its partners. (Click to enlarge.) | Source: BIRN

Another supplier of the Pentagon is the company Picatinny Arsenal. Headquartered in New Jersey and not so big, it has a serious lobby in the face of the republican congressman – Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, who has even shared a special place for Picatinny Arsenal on his web page. It fell into the field of vision of OCCRP, after they had noticed that the Pentagon had corrected, through erasing, the final destination of the weapons, purchased from Bulgaria. According to initial information, Iraq and Syria were the final delivery points, but after the intervention of the Pentagon they were deleted. Fortunately, the OCCRP investigative journalists had cleverly copied the original document, which we can show you.

Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

Before and after images from a Pentagon procurement database show how the end destinations, “Syria and Iraq,” were removed from the procurement records. | Source: BRIN (Click to enlarge.)

In the same time, another independent organization – Conflict Armament Research (CAR) went even farther and went to a place in Syria, where it filmed and categorized the weapons taken away from ISIS.

Thus, for example, in 2016 the Iraqi police forces took away from the ISIS forces a rocket-propelled grenade produced in Bulgaria – 9M111MB-1 ATGW, about which Bulgaria admitted that it was exported in 2015 and the end user was the US department. As of the moment there is not an answer from the USA how that weapon has turned out to be in the hands of ISIS.

Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

A Bulgarian 9M111MB-1 ATGW missile tube exported to the US Army on 12 December 2015
Documented by a CAR field investigation team in Al Khalidiyah, Iraq, February 2016 | Source: CAR

Another example is from the beginning of 2017 when in Mosul, the Iraqi units again took away from the ISIS forces the same model of rocket-propelled grenade. Bulgaria again confirmed that the grenade was exported and sold to the US department, and the USA is again silent and does not give an answer to the asked questions

But the most striking case is the purchase of the PG-7T 40 mm grenade by the US company Kiesler Police Supply with an explicit clause for non-transference of the grenade in question. Bulgaria has confirmed that the grenade has been sold to that company. As of the moment neither the company, nor the US government has explained how it turned out to be part of the equipment of ISIS in the region of Al Hasakah, Syria.

Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

A Bulgarian PG-7T 40 mm rocket exported to the US Army on 23 June 2014
Documented by a CAR field investigation team in Al Hasakah, Syria, May 2015 | Source: CAR

The examples are a lot and we do not see any sense in listing them, and the case in point is not always America or American companies. In the report, Saudi Arabia is also mentioned with the same activities, reviewed by now. But the overall picture acquires its nuances.

Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

Spleeters inspects mortar projectiles in a building that ISIS abandoned when it lost control of Tal Afar. |
Photo by Andrea DiCenzo

The CAR`s investigator Damien Spleeters says: “So how exactly did American weapons end up with ISIS? According to a July 19, 2017, report in The Washington Post, the US government secretly trained and armed Syrian rebels from 2013 until mid-2017, at which point the Trump administration discontinued the program—in part over fears that US weapons were ending up in the wrong hands. The US government did not reply to multiple requests for comment on how these weapons wound up in the hands of Syrian rebels or in an ISIS munitions factory. The government also declined to comment on whether the US violated the terms of its end-user certificate and, by extension, failed to comply with the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, of which it is one of 130 signatories.”

(Download full CAR Report)

The silence of NATO and the UN is “a bonus” to Bulgaria.
Actually, along the trading chain of the sold Bulgarian arms we have two major players – the Bulgarian military manufacturers and the US purchasers.

However, the hidden participants are two organizations – the UN and NATO.

Their inactivity, silence and non-undertaking of measures on these deals makes them guilty as much as the USA or Saudi Arabia. Through those activities of theirs and by creating a precedent, they allow many future similar deals to happen.

This is already dangerous, because it is a serious prerequisite for corruption at very high international level, which to affect the lives of many people.

On the other hand, the inactivity of the two organizations threatens the Eastern European governments that sell weapons and ammunition to be at risk of non-compliance with the international law. So far there has been no a reverse reaction, and Bulgaria continues to sell to US companies, but till when? Could this partnership at one point turn out to be too “expensive” for the Bulgarian state?

And last but not least, what will happen with those weapons after ISIS is defeated?

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Sources: Organized Crime and Corruption Report Project, Conflict Armament Research, Wired

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Damascus still has the capability to launch attacks based on chemical weapons

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Damascus still has the capability to launch attacks based on chemical weapons
Photo credit: Vestnik Kavkaza

JERUSALEM, Israel (BulgarianMilitary.com) – In recent weeks, the topic of chemical attacks on Syrian rebels has been on the agenda again. Sources (unverified) claim that there are even real reports of a new chemical attack. It’s not the first time that all signs show that Syria has not complied with its obligation to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.

When the world, especially the U.S celebrated the false victory of “Syria clean of chemical weapons”, Israel did not join the festivities.

In all recent attacks, the U.S and other countries released condemnations but nothing real has been done.

Israel never relied on the UN to verify that the Syrian regime has fully complied with the resolution to get all chemical weapons out of Syria. The only acceptable proof could be achieved by Israeli – made sensors adapted to gather this information. This is mainly an aerial operation.

Almost three years ago the celebrations began, in spite of the fact that Israel continued to claim that president Assad fooled the U.N, the U.S and other naive bodies, and still holds huge quantities of these deadly chemicals.

The Israeli air force (IAF) has been on high alert to meet any attempt to use these weapons in the “context” of the civil war in Syria.

Israel has been closely watching the civil war in Syria since its onset, worrying that it could “spill” across the border.

It could be said that Israel has had an eye on every move made by the two sides in the civil war.

All the sensors – based mainly in the air and in orbit – have been focused on known sites where Sarin gas and other deadly chemical weapons are being kept.

Israeli sources say that the chemical weapons arsenal of Syria, may have shrinked but Damascus still has the capability to launch attacks based on chemical weapons.

This minute-by-minute process is aimed at avoiding a situation where the deadly substances only changed location, so that the world is satisfied while the danger stays imminent.

And in all the recent attacks, what has been known to the Israeli intelligence mainly through all the aerial sensors, was smacked in the face of those that celebrated the false event of “Syria clean of chemical weapons”.

When a country has a variety of sensors it can easily confirm what is reality and what is false. That exactly what happened in this case. When the world showed the false achievement of Syria clean of chemical weapons, the IAF has been keeping a super high alert in its northern bases. This to foil any attempt of Syria to use the chaos created by the ongoing civil war, to try and perform an attack on Israeli targets using chemical weapons.

In most cases when these were used by Syria, the regime claimed that it was the rebels that put their hands on quantities of the deadly agents and used them.

Follow us everywhere and at any time. BulgarianMilitary.com has responsive design and you can open the page from any computer, mobile devices or web browsers. For more up-to-date news from us, follow our Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages. Do not miss the chance to subscribe to our newsletter.

The opinions and statements expressed in this text as a result of the journalistic analyzes of the author and his opinion on the topic. This text represents a different point of view and does not involve anyone with the author’s opinion.

BulgarianMilitary.com
Author: Arie Egozi
Editor: Boyko Nikolov

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The Deals for New Armoured Vehicles Have a Higher Added Value for Bulgaria

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Patria-delivers-a-new-version-of-AMV-vehicle-to-Slovakia
Patria AMV | Photo credit: Patria

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – In contrast to the expectations (mainly the public ones), the most commented military deal in Bulgaria, the one for the purchase of new combat fighters has the least added value for the country. From a historical point of view, Bulgaria has not been at all developed in the field of aircraft construction, neither civil nor military. The DNA of our cultural psychology makes us to rejoice at “something shining”, “something new”, and “something German“. I immediately note – the latter will not be valid in the deal for the new combat fighters, because logic leads us to the selection of two types of fighters – SAAB Gripen and F-16 Block 72.

Due to unknown for me reasons, the Bulgarian colleagues-journalists and society are significantly interested namely in that military deal, which in fact has the least added value for Bulgaria. By analysing that fact in the comments of our fellow-citizens, it is once again confirmed one old maxima – “give someone bread and circuses and watch him.”

Bulgaria will spend in the next years approximately BGN 4 billion in total on renovation of the military equipment, and only BGN 1.8 billion is directly connected with our Air Force. The rest BGN 2.2 billion is foreseen for new armoured vehicles and two patrol boats. Exactly these both deals are of big importance for us as Bulgarians, as a society and as a part of some economic progress.

In these two spheres of the military machine-building, our country has both historical and industrial traditions. Exactly due to these reasons, I am carefully trying to follow and analyse both the political statements and the business communication at national level from the possible contractors under the projects.

The Deals for New Armoured Vehicles Have a Higher Added Value for Bulgaria

Janne Räkköläinen, Vice President at the Finish company “Patria” | Photo credit: 24 Chasa

Quite recently, Janne Räkköläinen, Vice President at the Finish company “Patria” (the company participates in the tender for new armoured vehicles) gave an interview for the Bulgarian media, in which he said, „If our proposal for armoured vehicles is selected, it will surely meet the short- and long-term needs of the army. You will be able to allow it, and, in addition, the vehicles could be upgraded and modified for serving you in the next 35-40 years, and they will be manufactured in Bulgaria by the Bulgarian industry.”

Read more: Finland Offers to Include Bulgarian Industry in Potential AMV Supply Deal

Read more: Patria intends to take part in the modernization of the Bulgarian Army

This business model is structurally identifying for the Finish company and its success has been based on it for the last few years. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the unification and expansion of the EU with countries from the former Soviet Bloc, “Patria” realized that the potential of the ex-communist countries, as well as the “patriotism” of the each relevant nation, which is always a delicate issue, may be used. In fact, the business invasion of Patria is not subjected to the well-known model “divide and rule”, but to the principle of Sun Tzu and his Art of War – “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” And although now we all are a “common and united North Atlantic family,” we were real enemies only twenty years ago.

Bulgaria will spend approximately BGN 1.4 billion on that deal and all future participants are aware of that, not at a business level, but at a local and structurally defining for the economy act.

“It is clear for us that when a country has the intention to spend BGN 1.4 billion on military equipment, this is not a normal deal. We shall offer something more for this money – to provide know-how, to create job opportunities, to ensure the delivery security, to provide maintenance of the vehicles throughout their life cycle. Patria offers to Bulgaria local production, which is implemented through technology transfer. You will not only buy vehicles. The armoured combat vehicles will be produced in Bulgaria by Bulgarian companies and Bulgarian workers. This approach will provide the opportunity for significant development of the capacity of the local industry and will ensure the delivery security in crisis situations, which is important for the national security. If a big part of the combat vehicles are produced in Bulgaria, as offered by Patria, a significant part of the investment will remain in the country, will develop the economy in that sector, and will create lots of new job opportunities. We have already realized four times such a transfer, so we have an excellent experience and know-how, which we offer now to Bulgaria.”

The silent diplomacy from international military companies, but at a local level, already gives its results. In the end of September this year the Bulgarian Defence Industry Association (BDIA) conducted one national conference on the subject “Defence Industry – a leader of the innovations in Bulgaria,” and the most interesting subject session was the option Bulgarian companies in that field to become possible subcontractors under the project for armoured vehicles. And we do not talk only about production of vehicles, weapons, optical components and products, but also about possible inclusion also of local talents from the fields of physics, chemistry, energy systems, etc.

The Deals for New Armoured Vehicles Have a Higher Added Value for Bulgaria

Mr. Zhelyazko Gagov presents the production opportunities of Optix JSCo at the national conference “Defense Industry – Leader in Innovations” | Photo credit: Optix JSCo

Read more: Bulgarian Military News BDIA Organizes National Conference on Defence Industry

The Bulgarian companies like Terem AD, Samel-90 AD, Arkus AD, Arsenal AD, Opticoelectron Group JSCo and OPTIX Co, after the fall of the communism, were forced not only to re-qualify in the production of systems after western standards, but also to change their way of business thinking and management business model. All listed companies work with the whole world, and their share in the sales at national level is very low in contrast to their international sales and relationships. It is not by accident that these companies also delivered their presentations at the mentioned conference of the Bulgarian Defence Industry Association.

Probably the society does not understand, but in that business, it is not worked for “simple cents” or “with materials supplied by the customer”. The quality of the Bulgarian military industry is very high. Otherwise, these companies would not have existed.

My personal suggestion is that three major traders will have their competitive advantage in front of the rest participants. They are the Finish Patria, the Swiss company Mowag and their series of products Piranha (wich is designed by General Dynamics European Systems), as well as the Turkish Otokar. Up to now, only Patria has confirmed that the production of the Bulgarian armoured vehicles will be in Bulgaria, but it is also expected the other participants to offer the same conditions, having in mind one of the statements of the Prime Minister Boiko Borisov during his visit namely at “Terem – Han Krum” in Targovishte on 27th April this year, “Your labour will be evaluated. There is a program at a billion and two hundred million.”

General Dynamics demonstrates Piranha's live-fire capabilities in Bulgaria

The Piranha 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicle. | © Courtesy of General Dynamics European Land Systems.

The Deals for New Armoured Vehicles Have a Higher Added Value for Bulgaria

Otokar ARMA 6×6 | Photo Credit: Otokar

The renovation of the Bulgarian Army should have happened – earlier or later Bulgaria shall re-arm its equipment by new technologies. The reasons are not only rooted in the fact that the equipment is old, but in the NATO membership of Bulgaria. When years ago we have become a full member of the North Atlantic Alliance, we have undertaken that responsibility and it is logical to fulfil it. The old Russian armament is of good quality, but it is “old” and is completely incompatible with the NATO standards. ‘Incompatible’ means new technologies, new communications, new communication codes and options, new generations. The military production has developed a lot since Bulgaria bought its last tank Т-55 and aircraft MiG-29.

The chance thousands of families to continue their work in the structures of the Bulgarian military factories is the biggest plus of these deals. The domino effect will also follow and this sector, because more work means more taxes, insurance, improvement of the life standard. As for the latter, it is difficult to predict by how much as the attitude of the Bulgarian employer is the second thing that needs to be renovated, but it is another subject for reflection.

Last but not least, if the deal is implemented in a way, foreseen by the Government, the chance of corruption will be reduced to the minimum and the reason for that is simple – the mediator in the deal will be the manufacturer itself, who will allocate the paid by the Government money toward the Bulgarian manufacturers. Something, which is completely new for our work standard, having in mind one notorious deal with helicopters many years ago, where the mediator was a Bulgarian and when half of the helicopters were not wanted by the Government and their maintenance turned out to be chimerical. Not to mention that after that deal the Bulgarian society remained with the taste of “spoiled and rotten.”

Yes, that deal has a higher value for Bulgaria than the purchase of combat fighter aircraft, mainly due to the possibility for us to say after years – that was done by us.

Only one issue remains for solving – will the Bulgarian Government succeed in changing its way of thinking by finding a common road and options for balancing the political and business interests.

Utopia?

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No comment, just the time sequence of facts

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No comment, just the time sequence of facts

SOFIA (Bulgaria), December 19, By Boyko Nikolov (Bm), Photo: Pixabay.com

During the mandate of caretaker government of Ognyan Gerdzhikov, the commission appointed to choose new supplier of military aircrafts for the Bulgarian air forces adopted a decision. Few days later the newly elected parliament and government took up their duties and returned the project in the very beginning.

Boyko Borisov launched the statement

“I have certain doubts that “Gripen” are the best fighter aircrafts”

and the President Radev stated that

“MIG 29 do not conform to the modern requirements”.

Due to some problems the Bulgarian MIG aircrafts were landed in order to be repaired and our Italian partners were invited to guard the Bulgarian sky. At the same time our military pilots refused to fly on the outdated Russian aircrafts and this way we remain without any “adequate” air force protection. The government adopted an urgent decision to grant BGN 20 million for the repairing of the available MIG-29 aircrafts and the Ministry of Defense opened a public procurement procedure with the same subject to the value of BGN 80 million. Simultaneously, the Minister of Defense Karakachanov stated that in addition to the current participants he will invite Boeing with its F-18 Super Hornet for participation in the tender.

The President tested personally Dassault Rafale in France and was fascinated by the flight, he was forced to answer a journalist`s question “Is Bulgaria able to purchase such an aircraft?”.

Minister Karakachanov is a little confused, because he has established that according to the Bulgarian legislation in force, amendments to documentation under public procurement procedures referring to the military industry whose value exceed BGN 100 million shall be approved by the Parliament, which applies also to the participants in the procedure. This automatically returns the procedure to its starting position and in order to re-open it Mr. Karakachanov shall present a new investment project before the Parliament.

And one particular detail – the initial sum of BGN 1.5 billion is decreased with BGN 300 million due to amendments of the law in the last year, currently the law envisages that military projects shall be charged with 20% VAT.

My personal opinion is that this choice of new fighter aircrafts will serve as an indicator of the political effectiveness of the government for the future. What this indicator shows now? I don`t dare to say!

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