Bulgaria MPs Meeting Outdoors to Discuss Air Force

Defense | October 2, 2015, Friday // 10:37|  views

Photo by Christina Dimitrova

Parliament's Defense Committee is set to hold a joint meeting with military officials at the Graf Ignatievo military base, Southern Bulgaria, amid calls for urgent measures to address the needs of the country's Air Force.

This comes after on Thursday Air Force Commander Maj Gen Rumen Radev stepped down just a day after a proposal to allow joint air policing missions over Bulgaria's airspace with NATO member states.

Maj Gen Radev, who later retracted his resignation after meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, said he had embarked on the step because of "lack of clear perspective" for the Bulgarian Force, where shortage in funding for maintenance and upgrade of capabilities has been present for years, despite several plans to pursue modernization.

Borisov vowed to consider urgent measures that could address the aviation's long-standing needs.

The Friday meeting was called by Gen Miho Mihov, a former Chief of Defense of the Bulgarian Armed Forces who currently chairs the Defense Committee in Parliament.

The Commander and pilots at Graf Ignatievo base will also attend and take part. MPs will hear their view on current plans to repair Bulgaria's Soviet-made MiG-29s in Poland. Polish military officials will also be present.

The Polish option appeared after Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev decided not to renew a maintenance and repair contract with the original equipment manufacturer RSK MiG which expired in September.

RSK MiG warns Poland has no documentation or license whatsoever to repair any MiG aircraft but the ones it operates.

Bulgaria needs to have at least one fighter squadron of 12 aircraft in order to maintain high level of combat readiness as a NATO member state. Currently, there are four flight-worthy MiG-29s with enough flying capacity in the Bulgarian Air Force, therefore the year 2015 is critical from the point of view of military aviation, according to the Defense Ministry.

Only two MiG-29s could remain flight-worthy and with enough flying capacity after the middle of next year unless the engines of other MiG-29 are repaired.

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Tags: Graf Ignatievo, Bulgarian Air Force, Rumen Radev, Radev, Boyko Borisov, Mihail Mihov, MiG-29s, RSK MiG, Air Policing, NATO, Nikolay Nenchev


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