Bulgarian Defense Minister: We can’t Supply Ukraine with Something We don’t have. F-35s will Arrive from the NetherlandsDefense | March 29, 2022, Tuesday // 13:49| views
Bulgarian Ministry of Defense
Defense Minister Dragomir Zakov is “ready to make tough state decisions on behalf of a combat-ready army”, he said during a presentation by his team. On March 1, Zakov succeeded Stefan Yanev, who was released because of his “own opinions” on Facebook according to Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. “In the field of defense, key capabilities must be filled, and there is a shortage of equipment, which is due to incorrect decisions made in the past”, said Zakov, who did not want to point out specific actions of his predecessors.
The Minister called on the Bulgarian people not to succumb to propaganda and stressed the luxury of Bulgaria being a member of NATO, otherwise, at some point, it would have been left without air forces. He confirmed that the available MiG-29 aircraft could not be maintained in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus, given the war in the region.
Regarding the call of former defense ministers for Bulgaria to send military equipment to Ukraine, Zakov commented that this would not happen due to “a shortage of a number of items.” According to him, if there was such an opportunity and equipment was sent, it would not put Bulgaria in the war, and on the other hand, not sending equipment does not mean that the country supports the actions of Vladimir Putin and Russia. Yakov, like Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, pointed out that Bulgaria helps Ukraine in other ways - humanitarianly, financially, informationally.
The Minister presented 9 priority projects in his work:
- acquisition of combat equipment for the construction of a battalion combat group within the mechanized brigade
- development of artillery support capabilities
- acquisition of 3D radars
- construction of an air defense system for site and zone coverage
- acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles
- acquisition of multi-purpose diesel-electric submarines
- acquisition of ammunition for naval vessels
- acquisition of coastal missile systems
- acquisition of field communication and information equipment
In addition - the purchase of additional F-16 aircraft to form a squadron.
Zakov added that defense funds must be spent on real capabilities, with suspicions of corruption over the years. According to him, capabilities for self-defense must be developed, and there is no greater guarantee of sovereignty than a combat-ready army. However, it cannot be formed in 5 years, and the only option for short-term results is to work with NATO partners.
Zakov commented on President Radev's words after the NATO meeting in Brussels that until the formation of a functioning squadron of F-16 fighters in Bulgaria, which he believes is expected in 2030, options should be sought for obtaining other fighters, such as is leased from European countries. The minister said the most immediate action was a visit to Poland to explore the options of the local air force.
Regarding the NATO battalion group, which will operate on the territory of Bulgaria under Bulgarian command, Zakov informed that there is a contribution from the United States, Britain, Albania and Italy, and in 1-2 months it will be staffed, and then the command will be taken over by the Italian military. He stressed that it is a deterrent and is intended for defense.
Zakov also presented his team, which is still being formed. One deputy minister is Yordan Bozhilov, who is the founder and first chairman of the Sofia Security Forum, which specializes in research and events in the fields of security, defense and international relations. Alexander Petkov remains as Deputy Minister, as he was appointed to the cabinet of Stefan Yanev. The head of the cabinet is Antoaneta Lozenska, who was introduced as a lawyer with extensive administrative experience.
Next week Dutch F-35 fighters will arrive
“Next week, Dutch F-35 fighters will arrive in our country to help the Bulgarian Air Force protect the country's airspace,” said Defense Minister Dragomir Zakov.
“Practical rotation is forthcoming next week. First come two, if I'm not mistaken, but you know that by decision of the Council of Ministers, there can be up to eight with the appropriate, of course, support and service staff.”
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