Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, whose government has been the subject of repeated criticism from President Roumen Radev over a series of military aviation accidents, hit back on August 25 at the former Air Force commander.
Borissov said that that it was unfortunate that air accidents were happening during Air Force training sessions.
“It would be good for someone to accept blame and to say, for so many years I was the head of the Air Force, and I’m guilty, too,” Borissov said.
Radev, a fighter pilot, held senior command positions in the Air Force before becoming its general commander in 2014. In November 2016, Radev won election as head of state on a ticket backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party. In office, he has been a frequent severe critic of Borissov’s government, including on military modernisation, which Radev has accused the government of wilfully neglecting.
Borissov said that what happened was guilt for the air accidents was apportioned only to the government, himself and the Defence Minister.
Similar accidents happened in other countries, he said. Borissov’s comment was sought a few days after an Air Force helicopter was involved in an incident in which it cut powerlines while avoiding a bird strike. Bulgaria’s deputy defence minister said that the pilots did nothing wrong, while military police are still investigating the incident.
Some time before, a Bulgarian Mi-17 helicopter crashed, leaving two pilots dead and another crew member severely injured. Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov blamed the accident on pilot error.
There have been repeated reports that Bulgarian Air Force pilots, through lack of resources, get too little flying time. Modernisation of the Air Force, through the acquisition of Nato-standard modern fighter jets, is a process that has been pending for more than a decade.
(Photo of Borissov: government.bg)