Replacement of Russian military equipment, such as MiG-29s, is one part of Bulgaria's modernization plan. (Wikimedia)
- Filed Under
WARSAW — Bulgarian Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov has announced a 1 billion leva (US $680 million) program to modernize the military’s armament and decrease its dependency on weapons and components from Russia by 2020.
The ministry aims to ensure that Bulgaria’s defense industry takes part in the designed program, Shalamanov said, as reported by local news site Mediapool.bg.
Shalamanov said the most important military procurements for the forthcoming years will include acquisition of new multipurpose fighter jets by the Bulgarian Air Force. Currently, all fighter jets operated by Bulgaria are Russia-built. These include the MiG-21, MiG-29 and the Sukhoi Su-25.
Other major armament programs in the pipeline include acquisition of a new submarine and an undisclosed number of new vessels for the Navy, according to the minister.
Shalamanov said the ministry is aiming to draft a program that will enable the government to boost military expenditure to 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Currently, Bulgaria is spending about 1.3 percent of its GDP on national defense.
Shalamanov was appointed Bulgaria’s defense minister Aug. 6 in the caretaker government of Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki. A new government is expected to be formed following the parliamentary election, which is scheduled for Oct. 5. ■