Bulgaria Signs Upgrade Contract for MiG-29 Fleet
04 Mar 2006
Bulgaria finally signed a contract with Russia's RSK-MiG for the modernization of 16 of its MiG-29 fighters on last Wednesday, March 1. The deal is worth USD 48 million and is known to include a general overhaul. The modernization will probably be limited to making the aircraft compatible with NATO standards, enabling the Bulgarian Air Force to use the type for the air policing task as required by NATO.
Earlier plans to upgrade 20 of its MiG-29s were cancelled following extensive delays in the schedule. Only six aircraft had been overhauled by RSK-MiG under the previous contract, but since 2005 virtually all MiG-29s had been grounded due to lack of spare parts. The air policing task is currently carried out by elderly MiG-21s, which will run out of remaining flight hours in 2007.
Bulgaria promised NATO to procure replacements for its ageing Russian-made aircraft in the next three years. So far Bulgaria signed contracts for at least five new C-27J transports and 12 Cougar helicopters. Candidates for the fighter requirement include the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Saab Gripen and Lockheed Martin's F-16.