Bulgarian Air Force - History - Modern Times - Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Inventory

With the exception of the Navy's small helicopter fleet, the Air Force is responsible for all military aircraft in Bulgaria. The Air Force's inventory numbers around 137 aircraft, including 55–56 combat jets, but only the MiG-29s, about a dozen Su-25s and a few MiG-21bis are flight worthy, and the L-39ZA is only used for training. The condition of some of the Su-25Ks is bad, but the Air Force is capable of overhauling and repairing them. There are around 23–30 helicopters operated by the Bulgarian Air Force at the moment, including Mil Mi-24 attack helicopter. Aircraft of Western origin have only begun to enter the fleet, numbering 27 of the total in service.

Bulgaria signed a deal with Eurocopter worth 358 million euros for purchase of 12 AS 532 Eurocopter Cougar (4 of which are modified for CSAR) and 3 Eurocopter Panther AS 565. The country also agreed to the purchase of 5 C27J transports with Alenia of Italy, a deal worth some 210 million euros. Currently, Bulgaria wants to purchase only 3 Spartan transports.

As a result of new helicopter and transport aircraft purchase it was decided to delay the purchase of new fighters for time being. Extra funds may be secured in 2009–2011 for the purchase of 12–24 fighters.

The BAF plans to retire most of its Soviet-era aircraft, keeping only the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum fleet which was modernized only recently, as well as its Mi-24 gunships and Su-25s. The MiG-21s in service where scheduled to be replaced with possible American or European aircraft, but the program has been dealt with by poor budget and the program is currently delayed. Due to poor budget conditions of Bulgaria the older Soviet aircraft may stay in service for years longer.

Read more about this topic:  Bulgarian Air Force, History, Modern Times

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