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.
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.
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.
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.
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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