Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on July 19 overwhelmingly in favour of an updated version of a project to acquire two patrol vessels for the navy for a sum close to a billion leva.
The vote was 135 in favour, nine against and with one abstention. The only parliamentary group to oppose the project was the Bulgarian Parliament’s smallest, the populist Volya party.
The acquisition project envisages two new patrol vessels, which when acquired will mean the decommissioning of three Soviet-made Bulgarian Navy ships.
Defence committee head Konstantin Popov opened the debate by urging a vote in favour, saying that then the good news could be conveyed to the Navy currently participating in the multinational Briz 2018 exercise at Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.
The proposal updates the project approved by a previous National Assembly in June 2016.
The new version takes into account changes to Bulgaria’s Value-Added Tax Act that came into effect on January 1 2017.
Among the major changes to the investment project is that the maximum estimated value of the project is 984 million leva (about 492 million euro) with VAT. This is 164 million leva higher than in the project approved by Parliament in 2016, with the difference allocated for payment in 2025 and 2026.
Two new acquisition options have been added. One involves the purchase of a new product, modified for the needs of the Bulgarian Navy, or licensed production, the other a combination of developing a new product and modifying an existing one.
It is envisaged that the multi-purpose modular patrol vessels will be equipped with basic armaments and the vessels also licensed, as options, for additional armaments and shipborne items.
The project envisages the delivery to the Bulgarian Navy of two multi-purpose modular patrol vessels, and other items including training of crews for the two ships, as well as integrated logistics support, over three years.
With Parliament’s approval, the Bulgarian government earlier initiated two other military modernisation projects, a restart of the process to acquire fighter jets, and the acquisition of 150 infantry combat vehicles.