Bulgaria invites Russia to send engineers to take part in overhaul of Su-25s
The Bulgarian Air Force’s Su-25 military jets will be overhauled at the country’s Avionas plant and Bulgaria is inviting Russia to send, as soon as possible, Russian engineers and specialists to take part in the project.
This emerged in talks in Moscow between the Speaker of Bulgaria’s National Assembly, Tsveta Karayancheva, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The overhaul of the Bulgarian Air Force’s Soviet-made Su-25s had been meant to be done at Belarus’s 558 Aviation Repair Plant in Baranavichy, at a cost of up to 100 million leva (about 50 million euro) for 14 aircraft, but could not go ahead because of the arms sanctions against Belarus imposed in 2004.
Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry paid 82 million leva on the contract in December 2018, but the money was returned because of the policy of the correspondent bank that was to carry out the transfer.
The statement by the National Assembly on the Karayancheva-Lavrov talks did not make it clear how much Russian involvement in the overhaul would cost nor how it would be paid.
Last week, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that 40 million leva was envisaged for the overhaul of the Su-25s.
The Sukhoi Su-25 made its first flight in 1975 and went into production in 1978. It was designed for close air support for ground forces. More than 1000 have been produced.
Bulgaria is currently spending millions keeping its ageing Soviet-made military aircraft in service. The country’s government and Parliament have approved the conducting of negotiations with the US on the acquisition of F-16 fighter jets, part of a military modernisation project to meet Bulgaria’s commitments to Nato, of which it has been a member since 2004.
(Photo of a Bulgarian Air Force Su-25: Krassimir Grozev)