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Bulgarian Military News

Some Underwater Stones in Military Deals That May Cost Billions

Some Underwater Stones in Military Deals That May Cost Billions

SOFIA (Bulgaria), July 5, 2018, Source: Mediapool, Nikola Lalov, Photo credit: Pan.bg

The government intends within the next several months to solve the three biggest projects for the modernization of the Army – the purchase of new type of fighter jets, armoured vehicles and ships, which represent the most serious investment program in the Army since 1989.

The total value of the future deals will be about BGN 4 billion and they will predetermine the development of the sector for the coming decades. Although the need of new armaments and equipment is indisputable, there are many unclear, non-transparent and controversial issues around the three projects that may compromise the modernization process and threaten the stability not only of the Army, but also of the whole country.

According to sources of Mediapool the Government is working the hardest on preparing the deal for new armoured vehicles that will worth over BGN 1.46 billion. Exactly it, however, is the most non-transparent one. Tax payers have not any information about the activities of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and even the major technical requirements of the needed machines are not known.

This allows of many speculations related to the Project, which concerns many different interests – business and political ones.

The main issue related to the aircraft Project is that it shall be made a choice between new and second-hand aircraft. The comparison is extremely difficult and in a similar situation Slovakia stopped the Project after having prepared it for years.

The future of the third Project – the purchase of two new patrol boats, is the vaguest, because of the limited budget. According to experts, there are very little chances the deal to fit in the planned budget – BGN 984 million. Although there are no such indications yet as the Project is in its initial phase, it is possible the Navy to lower the requirements for the required by them ships.

In general, however, experts in the sector are wondering if there will be a deal at all.

What is the schedule?

According to the schedule of the Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov, up to 25th July it shall be sent the invitations for offers for the projects for new types of fighters and for armoured vehicles. The deadline for submission of questions and clarification is 15th August. Up to 25th October the offers shall be received, and four days later – opened.

In November the offers shall be evaluated, and at the begging of December tests for the parameters of the machines shall take place. The contracts shall be concluded on 19th and 20th December.

Having in mind the past practice, it is likely that the schedule to suffer delays, but the political leaders of the MoD has already declared several times the ambition to conclude the deals by the end of the year.

The boat Project has been not discussed yet by the Parliament, and that is why it will suffer a delay of a few months.

The armoured vehicles: Lack of transparency and fuzzy political responsibility

At the moment, the Project for the armoured vehicles is in information blackout. Unlike the fighter jet Project, which is detailed, there is quite general information about it.

The Land Forces state that there is technical information about each required machine, but it is not public.

These details are key for the future selection as there are big differences between the offered machines.

Another specific fact is that this Project is entirely given in the hands of the military. Unlike the other two projects, there is no responsible Deputy Minister of Defence appointed for that one. It is not clear as of the moment what this reason for that is.

Underwater stones are also hidden in the set requirement the machines to be assembled in Bulgaria, which may make the order more expensive.

The fighters: almost an impossible choice

In the fighter Project, the main difficulty will be the choice, which shall be made between new and old aircraft.

The main competitors will be the Swedish new Gripen fighters and the second-hand F-16 from Israel or from Portugal and the USA.

The MoD wants also offers for newly-manufactured combat aircrafts F-16 Block 60 (or 70) and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, second-hand F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, new or used Dassault Rafale (France), new or second-hand Eurofighter, but probably Bulgaria will not be able to afford them.

The Ministry of Defence submitted the Project to the Council of Ministers for a second time. Last year, the Parliament returned the old Project for further development, explaining that the offers of Portugal and the USA for a second-hand F-16 were excluded from it due to formal reasons because payment in instalments was not offered.

Already during the parliamentary control experts warned that it is offered in the Project a choice between new and used aircraft, which is very difficult.

Now the case is repeated, and offers are requested for new and old fighters.

Last month, the Slovak Government postponed its decision whether to purchase U.S. F-16 fighters or the Swedish Gripen, and the Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini explained that he wanted to see comparable offers.

Whatever algorithm is used by the Bulgarian Air Force, in all cases there will be pros and cons the choice made and probably the debate will prolong the Project again.

It is also possible that boats at that price may not be found

Last week, the Government also gave the green light to the Project for the purchase of two new patrol vessels for the Navy at BGN 984 million with VAT.

The Project for the new boats was in the finals, but at the end of last year, the only company that had submitted an offer – MTG Dolphin based in Varna, surprisingly gave up at the last minute.

The decision was not officially commented by the company, but it was explained by the MoD that it was due to the reduced cost of the Project. Initially, it was worth BGN 820 million, which had to be paid within the next five years. After legal changes had led to charging of VAT on military projects, the money for the deal was reduced by more than BGN 164 million.

Already last year, however, it was clear that even BGN 820 million would not be sufficient for finding enough candidates, and the Navy warned that the Project would increase its value with each passing day.

Now, the MoD finds itself in approximately the same situation. This time, however, it has also envisaged two new options for acquiring the boats: “purchasing of a new defence product (modified for the needs of the Navy) or licensed production and a combination of developing a new product and modifying an existing one.”

It is not yet clear whether and how these options would affect the Project and technical specifications of the ships, but it is clear that the Navy is trying to provide more options for the future suppliers.

It will be of significant importance the Government to clear up the doubts that the Project is being prepared for a particular company, which doubts existed during its first edition.

Worries and bad practice

At this stage the Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov remains moderate in connection with the future of the projects.

“We have worries. We have worries about all projects. Why shall we deceive ourselves and talk beautiful things? Everything may happen. It is also possible that offers are not submitted at all. Although there is interest in all three projects – the two voted ones and the one which is to be submitted. Interest is shown by companies, and they are not one or two,” said Karakachanov in front of the deputies from the parliamentary military commission.

“You saw what happened last year with the boats. In fact, only one company submitted an offer. Others showed interest, asked questions: can’t we change this, change that, mostly in relation to the prices and VAT. We cannot! It was voted in this way by the Parliament. Finally one company submitted an offer. We have worries, but as it is said, we will try to fulfil the work that depends on us in the best way and we will hope things to happen after that,” added Karakachanov.

Far more dangerous option than non-implemented projects, however, is the deals to be concluded, but not to lead to a qualitative change and the new machines to stay in the hangars, because it has turned out that it is not exactly what we need and is very expensive for maintenance.

In that respect the military have significant experience.

Against the spent hundreds of millions of levs during the past 15 years almost no combat capabilities have been acquired, and some of the signed contracts are emblematic with their poor planning and implementation.

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Bulgarian Military News

BDIA Organizes National Conference on Defence Industry

BDIA Organizes International Conference on Defence Industry

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), 20 September 2018, Editor: Boyko Nikolov, Photo credit: Sofia Photo Agency Archive

Today, 20th September, at the Central Military Club in Sofia, the Bulgarian Defence Industries Association organizes a national conference with international participation “Defence Industry – a leader of the innovations in Bulgaria”, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

The conference is under the patronage of the Deputy Prime Minister for Public Order and Security and Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov. The Deputy Defence Minister Anatoliy Velichkov will also take part in it.

The conference is divided into three subject sessions, which are “The role of the European defence industrial development program for strengthening of the national and European defence capabilities” (session 1), “The capabilities of the Bulgarian defence technological industrial base for implementation of the investment project of the Ministry of Defence: Acquisition and maintenance of basic combat equipment for building of battalion battle groups of the mechanized brigade” (session 2) and “The zeal of young talents in support of the development of the economical foundations in security and defence” (session 3)

Besides the official part, at the conference, through reports, it will be presented the capabilities and potential of the Bulgarian defence industry by Mr Stefan Vodenicharov, as well as a report of the French company Safran, which will be represented by the Vice-President, International Development, Mr Olivier Lafaye.

Bulgarian companies in the field of defence industry will make their short presentations. These are Terem AD, Samel-90 AD, Arkus AD, Arsenal AD, Opticoelectron Group JSCo and OPTIX Co.

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Bulgarian Servicemen in Blue Bridge and Saber Junction 2018 Exercises

Bulgarian Servicemen in Blue Bridge and Saber Junction 2018 Exercises

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), 19 September 2018, Editor: Stanislava Georgieva, Photo credit: Sgt. Charles Johnston

On 18 September, the Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 pair and the Romania’s supersonic jet fighter MiG-21 took part in the annual joint flying training „Blue Bridge – 2018”, conducted since 2012 between the Bulgarian and Romanian Air Forces, learned BulgarianMilitary.com. During the training, the fighter aircraft successfully completed all missions as well as Air Policing one, which involved the interception and the forced landing of an airplane flying without authorization through the airspace of both countries. This happened at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, and for the fulfilling of the flying tasks goals, in the role of “airplane-intruder” was involved and military transport aircraft C-27J Spartan, part of the inventory of the Romania’s Air Forces. The training included actual reception and transmission of crew management, done by the relevant national control centers. The annual Bulgarian-Romanian flight exercise, Blue Bridge – 2018, aims to improve the coordination and the interoperability between the Air Forces of the both countries, when carrying out cross-border operations on air traffic control and airspace security. It also improves the crew preparation in order to be trained to perform accurately coordinated in time and space flight tasks, in the airspace.

Meanwhile, the multinational exercise “Saber Junction – 2018” is currently taking place at the The Joint Multinational Readiness Center – Hohenfels in Germany. The training is held in the period from 13th to 28th September, with the participation of servicemen from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Latvia, Macedonia, USA, Ukraine and France. There, Bulgaria is represented by more than 90 servicemen of the 31st Mechanized Battalion based in Haskovo, which is part of the 2nd Mechanized Brigade, with deputy commander of the Battalion, Major Plamen Kirilov. During the training, the servicemen will improve their abilities in completing tasks during peacekeeping operations.

Read more: Eight NATO member countries will take part in the biggest exercise held in Novo Selo, Bulgaria

Read more: The Largest Training “Spring Storm 18” in the Black Sea with Bulgarian Participation

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

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

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), 19 September 2018, Author: Boyko Nikolov, Photo credit: Pixabay

The U.S. concern and one of the biggest manufacturers of military equipment in the world – Lockheed Martin made its presentation on 18th Septemeber at Arena di Serdica Boutique Hotel in Sofia, and offered to the Bulgarian Government the purchase of the F-16 Block 72 fighter, known as Viper, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

The event was organized by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, the chairman of which is Dr. Solomon Passy and with the assistance of Mrs. Kalinka Kovacheva, who is a representative of Lockheed Martin for Bulgaria and Macedonia.

Read more: Bulgaria Cannot Influence the Expected Offers for a New Fighter for its Army

The senior manager at the U.S. company James Robins announced that the company is ready to offer to the Bulgarian Government systems, simulators and service till the end of their life cycle. We shall remind that the F-16 Block 72 fighter in question is fourth generation with renovated radar and information systems operating in real time, systems protecting the aircraft against crash on the land, systems following the life cycle of the pilot and saving him/her in case of loss of consciousness, as well as systems with big range of operation and accuracy of the firearms. The aircraft of 5th generation – F-22 and F-35 – are equipped with the same system integrations, which turn the F-16 Block 72 into an aircraft of 4+ generation.

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

James Robins – senior manager at Lockheed Martin | Photo by Tsvetelina Belutova – Dnevnik

Read more: Official: Bulgaria Will Request Bids for 5 Combat Aircrafts and Their Modifications

As of the moment, it has not been manufactured any aircraft of the latest version in question, but the U.S. Government has already managed to sign lots of sale contracts, and it shall be reminded that the Government of Bahrain has ordered 16 aircrafts of the same fighter.

“The discussion about the money will be between the governments,” were the words of Randy Howard, Director of the F-16 and F-22 Development Program at Lockheed Martin. In this way, he did not answer to the asked by a reporter of ‘Dnevnik’ question if the allotted by the Bulgarian Government money will be enough for the purchase of 8 combat fighters.

Pure mathematics on the base of the deal between the USA and Bahrain shows that the Government of Bahrain will pay US$ 145.5 million per an aircraft. This, however, shall not be a starting point for the Bulgarian expectations as the Kingdom of the Middle East has ordered 16 pieces of the combat fighter in question, as well as additional upgrade of the available 20 F-16s of the Royal Air Force of Bahrain.

Read more: Bahrain Expects New F-16s

“Realistically Bulgaria will not be able to produce parts for the Bulgarian fighters, but we are looking for ways for cooperation and will offer them. We do this all over the world,” said Randy Howard.

BulgarianMilitary.com learned that the U.S. company has invested significant financial resources in the building of a brand new factory for the production of the F-16 of new generation in question in South Carolina, the USA, and the it is suggested that that factory will ensure between 150 and 200 new jobs in Greenville, South Carolina.

The manufacturing of F-16 in the USA also maintains hundreds U.S. engineering and service private companies, and thousands of U.S. suppliers, located in 42 states in the USA.
We would like to remind that Bulgaria placed an inquiry for offers for the purchase of new combat aircraft to 7 countries 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)

It shall also be reminded that BulgarianMilitary.com is the first media that has officially announced the complete technical parameters of all combat fighters, in which the Bulgarian Government is interested.

Read more: Technical information and unit prices of the five combat aircrafts for which Bulgaria will ask for offers

In accordance with the NATO membership of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Air Force shall be compatible with and adapted to operate with the air forces of the North Atlantic Alliance and for that purpose Bulgaria has prepared Terms of Reference for the purchase of new combat aircrafts. Moreover, the available equipment is from the period of the Soviet Union and Bulgaria has at its disposal MiG-29 fighters, which must have been grounded and decommissioned from long ago.

About Lockheed Martin (U.S.)
An international company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S. It specializes in the areas of Aircraft, Energy , Maritime Systems , Missile Defense , Space , Training, Logistics & Sustainment, Weapon Systems. The company works with U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. federal government agencies and supply the U.S. armed forces with military and rotary-wing aircraft. Lockheed Martin has clients in Australia, Japan, Poland, Singapore, Turkey, U.K., United Arab Emirates, Italy, etc.

Who is Kalinka Kovacheva? Kalinka Kovacheva is an official representative of Lockheed Martin for Bulgaria and Macedonia. She was born in Bansko and is a computer engineer, a graduate of TU-Sofia. She was a Director, Corporate Relations, and an Executive Director of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria. She has participated in a leadership program of the U.S. State Department – International Visitor Leadership Program. Kovacheva is the only woman, who is a 96th degree Mason, consecrated in Israel. She is responsible for the Balkans and East Europe in lots of international Mason organizations.

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Defense Minister Karakachanov Greeted the Border Police and the Army for their Cooperation in the Protection of the Border

President and Minister Impressed by an Indigenous Product Sold Worldwide

Malko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), 18 September 2018, Editor: Stanislava Georgieva, Photo: Boyko Nikolov

On 17 September, Defense Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, visited the area near Malko Tarnovo, near the Bulgarian-Turkish border in order to become familiar with the Special Forces work. There, the Bulgarian Special Forces demonstrated abilities in deterring an influx of illegal immigrants into the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, in front of media and local authorities’ representatives, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

Near the town of Malko Tarnovo, Karakachanov said to the media that the attention of the Border Police and the Bulgarian Army was not distracted even for a second from border guards, a mission defined by him as extremely serious. He expressed his pleasure with the good coordination between the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense in caring out responsible tasks such as the border guard. He emphasized: “We are obliged to defend our country.”

According to his statement, the army will continue to support the Border Police at the border, till the latter needs assistance and while the Bulgarian society requires to be defended. Defense Minister also revealed the fact that, if there is a large influx of immigrants, the Border Police will be strengthen in means of additional 2,700 servicemen and about 500 units of equipment.

Karakachanov pointed out the need of more technical, night vision and personal protection equipment for the servicemen at the border. Talking on the subject, he informed about a future delivery of jeeps (SUVs) for border guards, funded by the European Union, expressing the hope for some of them to become part of the army’s inventory. Till now, the border guard tasks have been fulfilled by the army’s own equipment with the cost not taking into account the depreciation and the estimates not including, e.g. fuel and lubricants.

Minister Karakachanov announced the increasing in the number of the Special Forces and the establishment of a Special Operations Forces Command as well as a new special operations group under that Command that will be based in the region of the capital.
The Commander of the Special Forces, Brigadier General Yavor Mateev said that, there is an increased interest in his unit, lately. He also commented:

“Over the last two years we have signed up a significant number of servicemen. We have announced a competition for the last 28 vacancies that will end in December. People come to us, mostly because of their strong desire for service, for fulfilling their duty and of fatherland love, as well as for the good training.”

In a response to a journalist question concerning the interest in the military job, Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov rejected the concept that young people have no interest in military service. He attributes the matter to the fact that the job of the military is not revealed to people and pointed out as an example that the smallest shortfall is where military units and commanders popularize well what the army does.

Read more: Opticoelectron Equipped the New Automobiles of the Border Police

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