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“Arsenal” Arms Plant to Undergo Full Investigation after Seized Illegal Weapons

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SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The Prosecutor’s Office of Republic of Bulgaria has ordered an inspection to be carried out in the Kazanlak-based arms factory “Arsenal”, in connection with the number of weapons, presumably manufactured and illegally taken out of that factory, which were seized on 4th December during an operation of DGCOC in Kazanlak, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

During the action in Kazanlak, a criminal organization, involved in the sale of arms that are likely to be stolen from the manufacturing plant in Kazanlak, was arrested. The found weapons included 17 Kalashnikov rifles, 15 Makarov pistols and 12 barrels.

In another joint operation of DGCOC and the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, in Sofia neighborhood Reduta, a record number of illegal weapons and ammunition were found in a garage, among them there were machine guns and pistols, involving 65 Kalashnikov rifles, 37 Scorpion guns, 43 pistols, 8kg. of highly explosive black powder, 14 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and tens of thousands of cartridges. Some of them were also captured during a search in the village of Gabarevo, Municipality of Pavel Banya. In the arsenal there were the silencers, which are used only by the Bulgarian special units.

Read more: Six People Injured during an Accident in “Arsenal” Military Plant

According to the state indictment, there is reason to assume that the illegal weapons have been manufactured at the factory and stolen from there. Now, the office of “KOS” in the General Directorate of National Police is about to carry out an investigation at “Arsenal”, ordered by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bulgaria. The service will have one month to complete the inspection and to provide a summary report, stating whether there are violations of normative acts and what are they, as well as the measures and actions taken to resolve them. The report should also point out the effects of the measures taken and whether sanctions have been imposed. It will also be inspected whether there is any possibility to be illegally taken out machine guns, pistols, and silencers from Arsenal, on such large scale.

Read more: The Victims Due to the Explosion in the Bulgarian Plant “Arsenal” Are Already Two (updated)

The Prosecutor’s Office of Republic of Bulgaria is aware of the fact that such an inspection cannot be concluded within a month. In this case, the prosecution should be acquainted with the reasons for the delay, as well as with the shortest possible deadline.

The Kazanlak-based company states: “Each product manufactured here has a serial number. This means that each of the seized weapons can be tracked if it was produced here. For many years Kalashnikov machine guns have not been produced in Kazanlak. However, the management of the arms plant is ready to assist in any way possible in order to be specified how and where the weapons were manufactured. Here, Arsenal machine guns are being produced.”

Read more: Bulgaria Benefits from Conflicts, in Which International Rules Are Breached

However, an official statement of the company’s management will be released when the experts find out if the captured weapons are manufactured in Arsenal.

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Sources: News.bg, BTA

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Despite its Lack of License the State-Owned Avionams Had a Chance to Repair Bulgaria’s Su-25

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Photo credit: Aeropress-bg.com

SOFIA, Bulgaria, (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The repair of the Su-25 aircraft that Bulgaria’s MoD decided to be done for nearly BGN 100 million, by the Belarusian company 558 Aircraft Repair Plant, was likely to be carried out in Bulgaria by the state-owned Avionams plant. This is reported by the Bulgarian daily newspaper Dnevnik, citing the correspondence between the Bulgaria’s aircraft repair company and the Russia’s state corporation Rosoboronexport, which  was provided by the Deputy Chairperson of Bulgarian parliamentary defence committee Nikolay Tsonkov (BSP), learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

Read more: Bulgaria is about to Conclude the Deal for the Su-25 Overhaul with the Belarus’ “558 ARP”

Previously, the Bulgarian Defence Minister noted that Avionams cannot carry out the overhaul, because it lacks the necessary license and it would take at least two years to get it. But the negotiations between the state-run plant for aircraft repair and Rosoboronexport, which were held prior to the announcement of the contractor selection procedure, show that Russia’s arms exporter holding the Su-25 licenses, planned to participate in the procedure together with Avionams and in this case the Bulgarian company does not need such a document.

This is understood by the correspondence of the Avionams held with the Russian corporation Rosoboronexport, the manufacturer of the aircraft JSC Sukhoi Company and JSC 121 Aircraft Repair Plant, with which they negotiated. The same is confirmed by letters stating the these negotiations conducted in 2018 with the Russian structures holding the license of Su-25 aircraft, to the Minister of Economy Emil Karanikolov, the Defence minister Krasimir Karakachanov and the Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev.

On 19th September, Rosoboronexport had confirmed their intention to participate jointly with Avionams in the project if such a decision was approved by the Bulgarian government. Rosoboronexport reminds in this letter that all exclusive rights are owned by Sukhoi Company as the aircraft developer.

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

The letter also mentions that a document has been prepared, listing the activities that would be carried out in Bulgaria and those – in Russia, as well as their respective prices. This letter shows that the Bulgarian state plant was inspected by Rosoboronexport, as well as by representatives of the Su’s manufacturer.

Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov told Dnevnik that the Plovdiv-based company does not have the license at the moment because Avionams was in the Terem system at the Bulgarian MoD, and when it went private, the document they had was to Terem. At the moment, they are in a position to restart the licensing procedure. According to Karakachanov if this happens it will make it possible in the future, the maintenance of the Su-25s and MiG-29s to be held in Bulgaria. He states that the licensing process itself will take at least year or two, after that certain investments in the enterprise will follow.

Read more: Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers Has Approved the Investment Projects for the MiG-29 and Su-25 Repairs

Bulgaria’s Defence Minister pointed out that MoD offered Avionams 10 Su-25 engines to fix them and when the company shows that it can implement this task, it can perform and other orders by the Defence Ministry.

“This will speed up the repair work for our aircraft, and a Bulgarian company will participate in this process, as well.” Karakachanov added

He said that the talks with Rosoboronexport did not mean that the Bulgarian company had received the license. “At the beginning of September, I told them: provide me with documents showing that you can do this overhaul. Otherwise, there is no guarantee,” Defence Minister explained further.

The procedure for the Su-25s repair envisages extending aircraft service life for another 10 years, and the Minister says that Avionams would meet his requirements halfway of this deadline. Dnevnik quoted sources in the Ministry of Defence saying that Su-25 technological life could be extended for another 10 years, after that.

Read more:Absurd situation – Bulgaria is ready to spend BGN 311 million for repair of SU-25 (Updated)

MP Nikolay Tsonkov, who revealed the abovementioned correspondence, believes that the deal was in the form of a framework agreement worth BGN 99 million, to enable the Defence Ministry and the government to circumvent the National Assembly. 

He suspects that this will not be the final price. “I am sure that next year, additional funds will be allocated and the price will rise to BGN 160-180 million.” Tsonkov also noted that the clause in the contract referring to intermediary firm raises doubts, given the fact that usually “we have an intermediary clause when we some money are about to be diverted.”

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BulgarianMilitary.com
Source: Dnevnik

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U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Advocated for the U.S. NATO-interoperable Fighters During his Visit in Bulgaria

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SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State expressed hope that the Bulgarian Air Force will operate the F-16 to protect the Bulgarian people, stressing that this concerns the national security. This, John Sullivan pointed out in an interview with BTV given during his official visit to Bulgaria. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State is on a diplomatic tour, visiting five countries of Central Europe and the Western Balkans, including our, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

In the interview, he expressed his belief that F-16 Block 70 is the most advanced and modern weapon system, as well as, the most suitable for Bulgaria’s defence and Bulgaria’s participation in the mutual engagements, along with the other NATO allies. According to him: “Gripen fighter cannot be compared to F-16. It is as if to compare apples to oranges. The F-16 is a weapon system proven in battles and used in NATO countries, in Greece, in Romania, as well as, by nonNATO nations – like Israel. There is a reason for these countries to opt for the F-16.”

Read more: F-16 Block 72 Known as Viper Has Been Offered to Bulgaria

In his words, the offer made by the U.S. and Lochkeed Martin to Bulgaria uses advanced technology that is simply not available for Gripen. It is not fair to make a comparison, based on the number of fighters that will be delivered, to compare 8 to 10, said further the American politician. “The eight F-16s are remarkable weapon systems that have proven themselves over and over again.” However, John Sullivan stressed that the final decision on what is right for the Bulgarian national security, is in the hand of the Bulgarian government and people.

Read more:Bulgarian Prime Minister Considers the U.S. F-16 Offer “Significantly Better”, SAAB Optimizes its Bid Immediately

The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State noted that the U.S. had invested nearly $300 million in recent years, a $100 million investment in the Bulgarian Air Force in order the F-16 to enter service with the Bulgarian Army easily and fast, in a way that Gripen could not.

During his visitation to Bulgaria, starting on December 14, John Sullivan held meetings with Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov, as well as with with Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva. “The purpose of my visit to Bulgaria was to reaffirm our alliance relations and to consolidate our bilateral ties.” John Sullivan told BTV.

In his talks with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister once again assured that our country strictly fulfills its commitments to NATO and reaffirmed the increase in defence expenditures of 2% of GDP by 2024, as well as, the allocation of additional funds for arms and equipment. While with the Bulgarian Defene Minister Krasimir Karakachanov, the U.S. politician discussed the regional security.

Read more: Bulgarian Cabined Approved the Report on the State of the Bulgarian Defense and Armed Forces

The issue for the modernization of the Bulgarian Army and the Air Force was also seriously discussed during the bilateral meeting between the Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva and John Sullivan, held on 14 December. It was also attended by Deputy Minister of Defence Atanas Zapryanov, who is the head of the political-military group that considers and evaluates the offers for a new type of combat aircraft. Speaking on this topic, Ekaterina Zakharieva said: “Of course, we as a government are in no way willing to influence the expert committee that will take the decision. We hope that they will really choose the aircraft that will best protect the Bulgarian interest and will increase Bulgaria’s capabilities in NATO.”

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Sources: Mediapool, BTA



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Bulgarian Prime Minister Considers the U.S. F-16 Offer “Significantly Better”, SAAB Optimizes its Bid Immediately

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SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has practically predetermined the choice of a new type of fighter for the Bulgarian Air Force, after expressing his hope Lockheed Martin to better their F-16 bid. This, he said in response to a journalists’ question, in Brussels, adding that the F-16 offered by the U.S. and Lockheed Martin “are considerably better than the others – the old “Eurofighter”, and “Gripen”. Bulgarian Prime Minister explained that his assessment is based on his talks with the pilots, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

Borisov pointed out twice that he did not want to influence the decision of the committee on which fighter to be purchased, but in his conversations with pilots he found out that they highly evaluate F-16.

Read more: The Comments on the Bids for the New Bulgarian Fighter are Now On

“There are committees considering these offers, I do not interfere in their work, I strongly emphasize, except that I want our aviation to have the best fighter,” the Prime Minister said in Brussels.

However, the final decision is political and as such, it is in the hands of the Bulgarian Prime Minister.

“The situation in the region is complicated,” Borisov alerted, pointing out that the issue of purchasing a fighter is not just about the air policing: “We need a warplane that can be engaged in warfare and can overpower it … We have allocated the money, I want to buy what we need for our aviation in the short term.” He added that he had set short deadlines to “stop this procrastination, year, two, three …”

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister noted that in the past 10-15 years, only military transport aircrafts were purchased for the Air Force – the Couger and Panther helicopters, the Spartan aircraft, all of them without any form of weapons.

Read more: Atlantic Council of Bulgaria Voiced a Position on the Acquisition of a New Type of Combat Aircraft

Both main competitors for the deal – Lockheed Martin and SAAB, earlier have announced they are ready to better their bids.

Lockheed Martin previously admitted that the producer would not be able to deliver the first batch within two years as Bulgaria requires, but now the International Business Development Director for the F-16 Program at Lockheed Martin James Robinson told Dnevnik that the company  and the U.S. government will reduce the cost and shorten the delivery time compared to its current offer.

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

The main competitor of the U.S. company – SAAB have already announced that their Gripen fighter aircraft is budget-friendly and can be delivered on time. The first batch of 4 fighters is set to be delivered in the period of two years after concluding the deal, which will allow Bulgaria to acquire the full combat capabilities, necessary to be engaged in NATO Air Policing mission, within 24 months after signing the contract, this was announced by the company.

Read more: Bulgaria’s Defence Minister: the Estimated Cost for the New Fighters Cannot be Exceeded

After it became clear today, that the U.S. offer for F-16 fighters has been improved, the Swedish government has come up with a new proposal – not for 8 but for 10 fighters that to sell us within the set budget, this was presented today to the Bulgarian Defence Ministry.

The Swedish Government’s official statement on SAAB’s offer, says: “The Swedish government has optimized SAAB’s bid and is now offering 10 fighters instead of 8. This will significantly enhance the operational capabilities of the Bulgarian Air Force. The optimized offer meets all Bulgaria’s requirements, it is within the set budget and the first fighters will be delivered within 24 months after signing the contract.”

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Sources: News.bg, BTA

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Over BGN 113 Million Extra Funding Allocated for the Needs of the Bulgarian Army

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Photo credit: Dnes-bg.org

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – At the request of Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, today (12th December), at its meeting the Bulgarian government voted to direct an extra BGN 113.6 million toward the needs of the Bulgarian Army, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

Today’s meeting of the Council of Ministers, which was attended by generals and representatives of the Bulgarian Armed Forces and the Air Force, began with the approval of three draft decrees related to additional funds provided for the army, amounting in total over BGN 113.6 million.

Read more: Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers Has Approved the Investment Projects for the MiG-29 and Su-25 Repairs

Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov announced that the Council of Ministers’ draft decree envisages BGN 33,433,000 for the needs of the central administration and for the needs of the Military Medical Academy. BGN 23 428 0000 will be used for administrative and construction works and facilities for the Land Forces, a stationary communications and information system for the Air Force, as well as for the Military Geographic Service. Other funds amounting to BGN 9 million are provided for the health insurance budget and for the national building stock and medical insurance of MMA. 

Krasimir Karakachanov explained that with today’s decisions, the Council of Ministers has granted, in particular, BGN 10.9 million for the maintenance of five Cougar helicopters in 2019, as well as for their spare parts and inspection. For the Mi-17 repair, the government has provided BGN 817 000 and for aircraft communications and navigation systems – BGN 40 086 664. Funds are also available for the repairs of the L-39 aircraft and the Soviet battle tanks T-72. Additional money is also given for the modernization of the Army’s information system and for TETRA portable and hand-held terminals, Bulgarian Defence Minister said.

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

In the words of the the Commander of the Bulgarian Air Force Major General Tsanko Stoykov, the extra funds will allow signing of contracts, by the end of the year, for the logistic support of almost all airplanes and helicopters of the Bulgarian Air Force.

In turn, the Chief of Defence General Andrey Botsev said that this budget envisages actions both for restoring the airworthiness of airplanes and helicopters, as well as that of arms and equipment of the Bulgarian army.

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BulgarianMilitary.com
Sources: BTA, Mediapool


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