Bulgaria’s Cabinet said on December 4 that it has approved an additional 16 million leva (about 8.2 million euro) to ensure the airworthiness of MiG-29 fighter jets used by the country’s Air Force.
The government statement gave no further details about the allocation, but Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told reporters after the weekly Cabinet sitting that the funds would be used to replace engines on eight jets.
“Sixteen million leva for eight jets, until the F-16s arrive, to replace their engines so that our pilots can carry out their duties and be safe,” Borissov said, as quoted by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television.
Several reports in Bulgarian media said that the funding was under the framework agreement approved last year, meant to ensure the airworthiness of the MiG-29s in order for Bulgaria to carry out its air policing tasks as part of Nato duties.
This summer, Bulgaria signed contracts to buy eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets fro Lockheed Martin for a total of $1.256 billion, but the first jet is expected to be delivered in late-2022. Until that point, Bulgaria will continue to use its Soviet-era MiG fighter jets.
(A Bulgarian air force MiG-29 Fulcrum taxis after landing at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria, during Thracian Star training exercise on July 13, 2015. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)