Bulgaria receives another MiG-29 engine overhauled in Poland
Bulgaria has received a second MiG-29 engine overhauled in Poland under a current agreement with that country, the Defence Ministry said on Twitter.
“Poland thank you for your allied solidarity,” the ministry said.
The first engine under the current agreement was received in March.
The two engines are enough to extend the service life of just one of Bulgaria’s fleet of the ageing Soviet-made fighter aircraft, of which it is said to have 11. How many are serviceable is an official secret.
On May 17, Bulgaria’s caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov claimed that the United States had told Bulgaria that it had “no way” of providing it with F-16s as a replacement platform and “strongly recommends that we continue operating the MiG-29 aircraft as long as possible”.
Stoyanov told Parliament’s defence committee that this had been communicated in an official letter from the US Air Force.
“We are doing our best to keep MiG-29 fighters flying as long as possible. The idea of buying and repairing engines was just that. We are also working on the option for a replacement platform, but most likely the defence committee will not be satisfied with the price for acquiring it,” he said.
Stoyanov did not specify how Bulgaria intended keeping the MiG-29s flying as long as possible, given that only Russia, Belarus and Ukraine have licences to carry out overhauls, while those three countries, along with Poland and Slovakia, are the only ones that can provide engines.
Slovakia is providing everything that it has related to the MiG-29s to Ukraine and the situation with Poland is similar, beyond the two engines that it has overhauled for Bulgaria.
Stoyanov told the parliamentary committee that it was not true that the caretaker government undertook no efforts to implement triangular deals by which Bulgaria would provide weapons and equipment to Ukraine and in turn would receive Western weapons and equipment from its allies.
“I held meetings with the defence ministers of Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the US, Sweden, with representatives of France. The issue was also discussed with the military attachés of many countries.”
He said that the only offer had come from an ally but this had fallen through “not because we were unwilling, but because this weaponry was directly provided to Ukraine”.
Stoyanov sought to put the blame for the lack of triangular deals on the Kiril Petkov government, which was in office from December 2021 to August 2022.
The caretaker Defence Minister said that it was “not true” that the Petkov government had received no proposals to provide weapons to Ukraine.
“During the time of the regular government, Su-25, MiG-29 aircraft, and 122-mm and 155-mm ammunition and other armaments were requested, but then there was no reaction,” Stoyanov said.
In the past month, Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry has announced two public procurements related to the MiG-29, for an estimated sum of 45 million leva, related to delivery and overhaul of engines for the fighter jets.
Lockheed Martin announced in December 2022 that the first of the F-16s that Bulgaria is to acquire was in production at its plant in Greenville, South Carolina.
The first two of the 16 F-16s that Bulgaria is to acquire are scheduled to arrive in 2025.
Completion of the process of taking delivery and putting the F-16s into service, to be flown by Bulgarian Air Force pilots trained to handle the modern Nato-standard fighter aircraft, is expected to take some years beyond that, leaving open the question of how the country will guard its air space in the interim after the service life of the MiG-29s expires.
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