WARSAW — The Bulgarian government has approved three programs to acquire new fighter jets, modernize the country's Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft and purchase new patrol vessels, worth a total of 2.42 billion leva (US $1.4 billion), reports local news agency Novinite.

Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev said that a tender to purchase new patrol vessels will be launched shortly. The ministry is aiming to submit its Navy modernization strategy to the country's parliament in the forthcoming days, and, under the plan, the strategy will be approved by the end of May.

"Within a period of 3½ to six years, the Navy will acquire two new vessels," Nenchev said, as quoted in a statement by the Defense Ministry.

To maintain the combat capability of Bulgaria's MiG-29 fleet, the country's Defense Ministry will modernize at least 10 Soviet-designed fighter jets in 2016 and 2017.

Bulgaria will modernize its MiG 29s.

Photo Credit: Krasimir Grozev/Wikimedia

Earlier this year, Nenchev announced that the Bulgarian Air Force will replace its aging fleet of Soviet-designed fighter jets with new aircraft in the next three to 3½ years. A contract to acquire new multirole fighter jets is to be signed by the end of this year, and the Bulgarian Defense Ministry has reportedly shortlisted three offers. These comprise the US F-16, which was withdrawn from service; Sweden's Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The planned procurements are part of the Bulgarian government's program to develop the capabilities of the country's armed forces by 2020. The plan was approved by the Bulgarian parliament last year.