The serious delays in the ongoing BGN1.5 billion (USD898 million) process for the acquisition of eight new jet fighters for the Bulgarian Air Force (BuAF) has resulted in the nation’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) now seriously considering the possibility of co-operation with the Russian aerospace and defence industry in the general overhaul and modernisation of Bulgaria’s existing fleet of 15 MiG-29 jet fighters and 14 Su-25 ground attack aircraft.
In an interview with Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) on 21 July, Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov revealed that he recently met the management of the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RSK MiG) to discuss options for logistical support of Bulgarian MiG-29s.
Bulgaria received 2 Klimov RD-33 engines for its MiG-29 fighters, which were overhauled by Polish military overhaul facilities. They were delivered to the Graf Ignatievo air base. The overhaul facilities started work on the last two Bulgarian engines last year, which were included as part of a package deal between Bulgaria and Poland.
The minister also revealed, that at the end of December 2015, two Polish RD-33 were delivered to Graf Ignatievo AB, which Warsaw provided to Sofia on a temporary basis. It was agreed, that they will not be used for more than 200 engine hours or 2 years. Moscow has stated that the overhaul of these engines by the Polish military was ‘Illegitimate’ and will now discuss options for ‘legitimate’ maintenance support for the Bulgarian MiG-29 fleet.