WARSAW — Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev has decided to halt two procurements to deliver US Guardian and Israeli Sand Cat armored vehicles to the Bulgarian Armed Forces shortly after he announced that the ministry would cancel some "suspicious" contracts, reports local news agency Novinite.

Nenchev said that new tenders by the Defense Ministry would be managed in a more efficient and transparent manner, and taken under his direct control.

Bulgaria was to acquire 13 M1117 Guardian armored security vehicles (ASVs) for the Bulgarian land forces under a contract estimated to be worth some 41 million leva (US $23.5 million), and six Sand Cat four-wheel-drive armored vehicles for the country's military police under a deal worth more than 16 million leva.

The Guardian is made by Textron Marine & Land Systems, and the Sand Cat is manufactured by Israel's Plasan. Both vehicles are already operated by the Bulgarian Armed Forces.

Other plans by the country's Defense Ministry include the launch of the much-awaited tender for new fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force. Last January, Nenchev announced plans to replace Bulgaria's ageing fleet of Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21 aircraft with new fighter jets by 2019.