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Bulgarian Military News

Turkish Military Vessels Will Visit Varna under the Exercise “Sea Star – 2018”

Turkish Military Vessels Will Visit Varna under the Exercise “Sea Star – 2018”

SOFIA (Bulgaria), March 29, 2018, Author: Galina Zdravkova (Bm), Photo by turkishnavy.net

In the period from 30th March to 2nd April 2018 a group of military vessels of the Turkish Navy will be in Varna as part of the annual exercise “Sea star -2018”, announced the Ministry of Defence. The submarine TCG I. Inönü under the command of CDR Ersoy Akca, the patrol boat TCG Tekirdağ under the command of LT Emre Gocmen and the auxiliary ship TCG Darica under the command of LT Mustafa Comuk are part of the participants in the exercise. The group of the Turkish vessels is under the command of CAPT Gokhan Gok.

The exercise “Sea star -2018” also involves units of the Navy, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard of Turkey and will take place from 26th March to 5th April 2018 in the Black and Marble Seas. Except the Port of Varna, groups of Turkish vessels will also visit the Ports of Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania

The goal of that exercise is improvement of the operational capabilities of the participants, development of their military readiness and enhancement of the maritime security in the Black Sea.

The scheduled activities within the framework of “Sea star -2018” are the following:

On 30th March 2018, the commander of the group of vessels together with the commanders of the vessels will meet the Regional Governor of Varna, the Mayor of the town of Varna, and the Commander of the Naval Base Point.

On 31st March 2018, representatives of the Turkish crews will visit the town of Dobrich, where they will lay wreaths at the memorial military cemetery.

On the 31st March 2018, from 10 am to 12 pm (noon) and from 2 pm to 4 pm, will be open to the public for visits. Before getting on the vessels, the visitors will be checked by representatives of the Military Police Service.

On 2nd April 2018 the Turkish vessels together with vessels of the Bulgarian Navy will participate in an exercise of the type “PASSEX”.

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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

Greece Welcomed Service Members from the 68th Special Forces Brigade of Bulgaria for Joint Training

Greece Welcomed Service Members from the 68th Special Forces Brigade of Bulgaria for Joint Training

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), July 4, 2018, Author: Bm Team, Photo: twitter

Greece welcomed service members from the 68th Special Forces Brigade of Bulgaria for an international joint training from 24th June to 2nd July 2018 announced from the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence yesterday on 3rd July. The training activities took place at the military base Nea Peramos, Greece, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

During the training together with the formation from the structure of the 1st Special Warfare Battalion from the 68th Special Forces Brigade and the Special Operations Forces of Greece, it were held exercises on alpine training, combat shooting, hostage release operations, evacuation of a casualty.

For the purposes of implementing the operations, three helicopters and two F-16 fighters of the Hellenic Air Force were used. The Commander of the Hellenic Armed Forces Joint Special Operations Command Major General Nikolaos Flaris and the Commander of the Bulgarian Special Forces Brigadier General Yavor Mateev expressed a high opinion of the service members for the excellent fulfilment of the tasks and the deserving performance during the international joint training.

The 68th Special Forces Brigade, being the unconventional warfare branch of the Bulgarian Armed Forces, is an independent branch, directly subordinated to the Chief of Defence since 1st February 2017. Before that the brigade belonged to the force structure of the Land Forces. The Brigade is one of the two Bulgarian military special operations units. The other one is the Naval Special Reconnaissance Detachment (NSRD), which is much smaller. The NSRD is a combat frogmen unit, belonging to the structure of the Bulgarian Navy.

BulgarianMilitary.com recalls for you that up to 160 service members from the 68th Special Forces Brigade and Land Forces of the Bulgarian Army will take part in the NATO mission in Afghanistan “Resolute Support” and the official ceremony on the departure of the Bulgarian service members was held on 22nd June in front of the chapel-mausoleum “St. Georgi Pobedonosets” in the town of Pleven.

BulgarianMilitary.com

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The New Patrol Boats Project Is Restarted and Is Worth about BGN 1 Billion

MTG Dolphin withdrew their offer for building of two patrol boats

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), June 28, 2018, Author: BM Team, Photo credit: Pan.bg

About BGN 1 billion (BGN 984 million) is ready to be granted by the Bulgarian Government for purchase/building of two new patrol boats, needed for the needs of the Bulgarian Navy, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

In this way the three major projects (new aircrafts, new combat machines and new ships) are officially restarted, following the idea of the Ministry of Defence the projects to be simultaneously implemented. The three projects are at the total amount of BGN 4 billion and, with their implementation, it is expected Bulgaria to spent about 2% of the GDP.

BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that last year, in December, the shipyard MTG Dolphin based in Varna, Bulgaria, declined to sign the contract for the two patrol boats on the day when that had to become a fact. The Company did not comment then its refusal and did not share its stand. On the other side, the Ministry of Defence explained that the main reason for the unsigned contract is the reduced contract value.

Read more:
MTG Dolphin withdrew their offer for building of two patrol boats
MoD: MTG Dolphin made a strong offer for a new patrol ship

The ships shall be equipped with basic armaments and be delivered with spare parts. The supplier shall train the crews and undertake their maintenance for three years.
The projects shall be also approved by the Parliament as by virtue of the law military costs above BGN 100 million shall be approved at a plenary session. It is expected this to happen without the occurrence of any particular problems as the case was with the other two big projects for the modernization of the army – for the purchase of fighters of new type and of armoured machines.

Read more: There is a risk for the defence of our territorial waters, stated the Counter Admiral Mitko Petev

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The Bulgarian Special Forces Will Participate in a NATO Mission in Afghanistan

The Bulgarian Special Forces Will Participate in a NATO Mission in Afghanistan

SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com), June 25, 2018, Author: Boyko Nikolov, Photo credit: Wikipedia

Up to 160 service members from the 68th Special Forces Brigade and Land Forces of the Bulgarian Army will take part in the NATO mission in Afghanistan “Resolute Support”, and their major tasks will be organization of the check regime of the automobile and pedestrian traffic at Kandahar Airport and training of the service members from the Afghan National Army, learned BulgarianMilitary.com

“As regular service members from the Bulgarian Army you have the needed training for fulfilling that mission. I am convinced that the knowledge and skills that you have received at the unified training centre will allow you to fulfil your mission with honour and dignity and come back with heads up as Bulgarian soldiers who have responsibly fulfilled their duties,” said the Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov at the official ceremony on the departure of the 36th Bulgarian military contingent.

The official ceremony on the departure of the Bulgarian service members was held on 22nd June in front of the chapel-mausoleum “St. Georgi Pobedonosets” in the town of Pleven.

Commander of the departing to Afghanistan contingent of Bulgarian military members is Colonel Veselin Vasilev from the Joint Forces Command. He has three successful missions in Afghanistan within the period from 2009 to 2015, as well as participations in the operation on restoration and stabilization of Iraq in 2004 and 2006. Commander of the security company is Major Velin Kehayov, who also has experience in preceding international missions in Afghanistan under the aegis of the North Atlantic Alliance.

The Bulgarian service members were welcomed by the Chief of Defence General Andrey Botsev. The official ceremony on the departure was also attended by the Commander of the Joint Forces Command Lieutenant General Lyubcho Todorov and the Commander of the Land Forces Major General Mihail Popov.

BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that the 68th Special Forces Brigade has participated in military missions in Iraq since 2003, and since 2006 – in Afghanistan. The major tasks for which the Bulgarian special units are trained to solve in military situation are reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, military support, combat search and rescue, guerrilla and anti-guerrilla warfare.
Due to their excellent performance during missions, the special units conduct multiple courses for representatives of other Bulgarian and foreign formations belonging to various army units, and the trainings are mainly on counter-terrorism, sniper training and combat activities in closed spaces.

From 2015 Commander of the 68th Special Forces Brigade is Brigadier General Yavor Mateev.

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

BulgarianMilitary.com

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