Bulgaria pours millions into embargoed Russia

Ministry of Defence pays through the nose for the obsolete weaponry of the ex-USSR

Bulgaria's Ministry of Defence will pay millions for the repair of 13 old Russian tanks T-72 and 60 aiming devices for them, it transpired from an already effected scandalous public procurement. The new shock comes after the decision to extend service of 14 SU-25 jet fighters, museum pieces of the cold war period.

The contract that will have to be effected within the coming four years will burden the national budget with about BGN 9.8m, VAT included. The aiming devices will be repaired for five years - 12 devices per year for BGN 360,000 each.

Only a few days ago the Ministry of Defence made public another scandalous procurement that is bound to waste another BGN 100m of the budget money for the repair of SU-25 Russian jet fighters deployed at the Bezmer airbase. It is no secret that these planes were designed at the end of the 1960s and by no means meet NATO standards. According to experts, their aiming devices and avionics have never been replaced. What have been replaced are only some components and engine accessories. Thus, instead of being compatible with neighbouring Greece and Turkey air forces that have long been employing the US F-16 jet fighters, which by year-end will be made available to the Romanian air forces as well, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence in all probability wants to pour millions into embargoed Russia for the maintenance of obsolete military hardware.

We would like to remind that T-72 tanks were brought into production in the remote 1971, and it would be only reasonable to buy new NATO-compatible armoured personnel carriers instead of giving artificial respiration to obsolete Russian weaponry worth millions.

Owing to the lack of new jet fighters compatible with the NATO defence systems, Bulgaria, which has been a member of the alliance for 14 years now, has never participated in any of the joint missions aimed at defensive superiority in the air. The F-16 and more modern F-18 fighters meet the three NATO criteria - they are fit for air combat, can attack land forces and armoured brigades, and carry out Air Policing - joint safeguarding of the EU air space.

The shocking news about yet another expensive repair comes after the report by the British Royal Airforce of an incident over the Black Sea on 26 August when they chased Russian fighters which trespassed the air space of Romania. Her Majesty's jet fighters are currently air policing while being deployed at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base near Constanta.

The Atlantic Council has reminded Bulgaria that this is the third in a row procurement as of the start of the year. As a result, along with the repairs of Mig-29 worth BGN 29.5m and Mi-24 helicopters worth over BGN 37m, within only one year the sum total will exceed BGN 230m. “This has been done for over 30 years after the collapse of the USSR and for 15 years since Bulgaria has become a NATO member,” the Atlantic Council underlines.

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