Money for Bulgaria's New Fighter Jets 'Earmarked in 2016 Budget'Defense | October 29, 2015, Thursday // 08:54| views
Bulgaria's Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev. Photo by BGNES
Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev asserted on Thursday that funding for a "first installment" was included in next year's budget draft for the purchase of a new multi-role military aircraft.
Nenchev told private national bTV the government was determined to buy new fighters for the Bulgarian Air Force, at a time when the country is to replace the outdated, Soviet-made MiGs currently in service with the military to meet NATO interoperability requirements.
A deal to acquire new (or second-hand) aircraft has been pending for years, with several offers having been submitted to Sofia.
Several governments in a row, however, have cited lack of funding as a reason to postpone its decision.
Nenchev's comments come a week after his visit to Poland, where he signed an agreement under which the engines of six MiG-29s are to be overhauled by Polish state-owned facilities.
The move sparked outrage from Russian RSK MiG, the aircraft's manufacturer, which warned it would stop carrying out the maintenance on the respective jets.
In Nenchev's words, however, the terms of the Bulgarian-Polish contract were "favourable", and the document would pave the way for "long-term" partnership.
"I expect that we will service our aircraft on our own at a later stage," Nenchev added.
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