Bulgaria is considering buying new fighter jets for its air force, the defense minister said.
Defense Minister Nikolai Nenchev said he aims to visit the US in the first quarter of this year to discuss the potential procurement, as reported by local news weekly Sofia Globe.
The defense investment strategy presented by the country’s previous government states Bulgaria aims to acquire new fighter jets to replace its Soviet-built aircraft. When the country joined NATO in March 2004, Sofia vowed to replace six of its Mikoyan MiG-21 aircraft and acquire eight new fighter jets by 2016.
Nenchev said that, due to the “inflated” cost of maintenance, the Bulgarian ministry would also no longer rely on Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG to repair and service the country’s 12 MiG-29 fighter jets, and could instead opt for awarding a new contract to a Polish defense company.
The current contract is set to expire in September, and the Defense Ministry is negotiating with Poland, which offers preferential conditions to Bulgaria, according to Nenchev. It is also noteworthy that Poland is a NATO member state, according to the minister.
The two engines of Bulgaria’s MiG-29 fighters are enabled with a take-off thrust of 8,300 kgf, according to data from the Bulgarian Air Force.