Bulgaria inaugurated on March 27 2016 its modernised Bezmer military air base, which has been upgraded in a 62 million leva (about 31.7 million euro) project to Nato standards for use by strategic transport aircraft.
Close to 55 million leva of the funding came from Nato and the rest from Bulgaria’s defence budget, in the project that took two years to complete.
The runway was lengthened from 2500 metres to 3000 metres, with turning arcs of 150m added at each end. The runway is 60m wide, with safety strips on each side. New lighting and signage also were added.
While intended for military use, Bezmer may also be used in emergencies by civilian commercial or light aircraft. The upgraded lighting makes the air base usable day and night, and the facilities are capable of all-weather use.
Bezmer, in the Yambol region in south-eastern Bulgaria and 10km west of the eponymous town, is among the facilities covered by an agreement between Bulgaria and the United States in a 2006 defence co-operation agreement on joint use of military facilities in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, who was at the March 27 opening along with Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev and senior military officers, said that with the increase in revenue being achieved by the government, there would be new opportunities for modernisation and development of Bulgaria’s military.
Nenchev said that only good infrastructure and modern technology could give security to the people who had dedicated their lives to Bulgarian military aviation.
“All new infrastructure is a path and an opportunity for the development of the economic potential of the country and the creation of new jobs for young people in the region,” Nenchev said. He thanked Bulgaria’s Nato allies for the financial support that had made possible the modernisation of Bezmer air base.
At the opening ceremony, there were demonstration flights by Su-25 aircraft, which will be relocating to the air base.
(Photos from the Facebook page of Borissov)