SOFIA, (BM) – Bulgarian Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov said that it is planned to sell MiG-29 fighters after arming F-16 Block 70 multi-role aircraft, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Polish news agency Defence 24.
In 2018, Sofia ordered 8 machines of this type, and in an unspecified perspective plans to acquire the other enough to have a full squadron.
The declaration was made on June 4 during a meeting of the finance committee of the Bulgarian parliament. Minister Karakachanov stated that when 8 new machines were commissioned, there would be no need to maintain the entire current fleet of MiG-29 aircraft and some of them could be sold.
However, in order to fully withdraw these machines from service, it is necessary to acquire another 8 F-16 Block 70 aircraft. Then it would be possible to fully replace the existing fighters with a full squadron of multi-task machines.
This is important because MiGi-29 has been serviced for years in Russia for rates inadequate to the quality of the machines but also the timeliness and quality of parts delivery, which often arrived late and their documentation was incomplete. That is why it was decided to service them in Belarus.
Bulgaria theoretically has 14 MiG-29 fighters in service today. Why theoretically? Because it is realistically suitable to fly a maximum of half of them and there are no more than two aircraft in the ready state. The rest are cannibalized to keep them in the air.
The cost of 8 F-16 Block 70 multi-purpose aircraft ordered in 2018, together with service and training, is $ 1.2 billion. By the time they are brought into service, which is to take place at the turn of 2022-2023, the service of existing Bulgarian fighters is expected to cost about 90 million dollars.
So these are considerable amounts, and Sofia has planned an ambitious program of modernization of the entire armed forces, including new ships or infantry fighting vehicles. Hence, probably the declaration on the planned sale of the MiG-29s. However, their technical condition and age do not give a good chance that such a transaction, if successful, will bring significant income.
It is equally unlikely that Bulgaria will be able to order another 8 multipurpose aircraft in the near future. Both for political and purely economic reasons.
8 aircraft ordered in 2018 are the absolute minimum required to simultaneously patrol their own airspace and meet their alliance commitments to participate in NATO missions.
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