Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry is again set to spend millions of leva on overhauling ageing Soviet-made military aircraft, offering a tender that envisages paying up to 82.51 million leva (about 42 million euro) for overhauls of the Air Force’s 14 Su-25 fighter bombers.
The Sukhoi Su-25 went into production in the Soviet Union in 1978, designed to be used as air support for ground forces.
According to Defence Ministry documentation, the overhaul should be done in line with the specifications of the original designer. In this regard, it has written to two plants that would meet this requirement, the 558 Aircraft Repair Plant in Belarus and Obyedinyonnaya Aviastroitelnaya Korporatsiya (United Aircraft Corporation) in Russia.
The move is the latest in a series involving overhauls of Soviet-era aircraft, following the signing of an 81 million leva deal with Russia to overhaul the engines of the Bulgarian Air Force’s MiG-29 fighters.
It also comes against a background of Bulgaria, a Nato member since 2004, having made public in July 2018 its Request for Proposals sent to seven countries to supply the Air Force with 16 fighter jets that would meet the Alliance’s standards.
The process of Bulgaria acquiring the fighter jets envisages phasing out the former Warsaw Pact country’s Russian-made fighters. However, with the fighter jet acquisition process having been delayed, stalled and revised numerous times over the years, there is still no certainty when decisive steps forward will be made in the actual process of acquisition, rather than government and parliamentary approval for it to go ahead.
(A Bulgarian Air Force Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’. Photo: Krassimir Grozev)