SOFIA, Bulgaria, July 26, 2018, Author: Boyko Nikolov, Photo credit: Eurofighter
On the website of the Defence Ministry of the Republic of Bulgaria a document was published entitled “Acquisition of a new type of combat aircraft – updated investment cost project”, which actually presents the intention of the country to purchase new combat aircrafts for renovating its aviation fleet and meeting the NATO requirements, learned BulgarianMilitary.com
Bulgaria will request bids for five combat aircrafts and their modifications from 7 countries, new and used respectively. According to the document, our country will submit inquiries as follows:
– From the USA we will expect brand new F-16 Block 60 or Block 70 and F/A–18E/F Super Hornet, as well as bids for the their used versions, but with their equivalent modifications;
– From Portugal we will expect a bid for used F-16 MLU OFP М6 (Third Party Transfer)
– From Israel we will expect bids for used F-16 C/D (Third Party Transfer) upgraded to the version OFP М6 (or such with equivalent capabilities)
– From Italy we will expect bids for used Eurofighter Tranche 1
– From Germany we will expect bids for brand new Eurofighter Tranche 3
– From France we will expect bids for brand new and used Dassault Rafale
– From Sweden we will expect bids for Gripen C/D and for used Gripen C/D upgraded to the current configuration in the NATO member states (Hungary and the Czech Republic)
How Bulgaria will pay the future order?
The Ministry of Defence has prepared a payment plan for the next 10 years, and in the period from 2018 to 2020 it is foreseen BGN 300 million to be paid, from 2021 to 2024 – BGN 800 million and from 2025 to 2027 – the rest BGN 700 million or BGN 1,8 billion in total. However, the Ministry of Defence notes that changes in the plan in question are allowed.
What are the major parameters of the project?
Bulgaria plans to purchase 16 combat aircrafts and the implementation of the whole project to happen in two main stages.
The first stage foresees the acquisition of minimum 8 combat aircrafts, and the first two will be delivered 24 months after the contract is signed. In this stage the time framework covers the longest period of 6 years, during which the aircrafts, spare parts, means for ground service and training to be provided.
It is foreseen the second stage to start with the signing of a new contract for its realization, which foresees the delivery of the rest quantity of combat aircrafts. For the Bulgarian Air Defence this stage is of extreme importance as it foresees, exactly in this period, to be achieved full operational readiness for the execution of the tasks under the Air Policing Program.
Why Bulgaria shall replace MiG-29 with new combat aircrafts?
The current MiG-29s of the Bulgarian Army have the so called “capability deficiency” on the ground of the year when they were produced and the advanced military technologies. This capability deficiency is expressed in several directions, but the main ones are communication systems incompatible with the NATO member states, different radius of action, lack of protected communication in Have Quick II and Secure Voice modes, incompatible tactical radio line for voice and data exchange, etc.
Why is it necessary bids to be requested again when the Gripen was already selected in 2017?
In the middle of December 2016 inquiries/requests for submission of bids for purchase of new or used combat aircrafts were sent to the four countries (Sweden, Italy, Portugal, and the USA). The received answers were reviewed and analysed in accordance with an approved methodology. The results were submitted to the Council of Ministers for final decision. For that purpose the National Assembly formed a temporary parliamentary committee for investigation of the fulfilment of the procedure on selection of a new type of combat aircraft. In its report, the committee recommended the Ministry of Defence to resend inquiries/requests for submission of bids. In the meantime, lots of meetings with representatives of countries and companies offering/manufacturing contemporary multi-purpose aircrafts were conducted in the Ministry of Defence. As a result from these meetings it was concluded that, as of the beginning of 2018, the number of the aircrafts meeting the obligatory major requirements and within the financial framework of BGN 1.8 billion with VAT is significantly larger than the foreseen one.
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