The Bulgarian military is frequently placed on alert in connection with Russian combat aircraft flying past. Bulgaria believes that the greater intensity of flights is deliberate provocation by Moscow, designed to wear out Bulgaria’s fleet of fighters.
The Bulgarian news agency Mediapool writes that since the start of the year, the country’s air force has been forced to scramble fighters on 19 occasions to inspect aircraft with deactivated transponders. Almost all of these aircraft are believed to have been Russian.
This information was provided by an anonymous source in the Bulgarian Air Force, who noted that only one of the planes belonged to another country – a small training airplane from Romania. For many years, Russia has been resorting to the provocative practice of sending its aircraft from the Black Sea towards Bulgaria’s coast.
This provocation by Russia is being done deliberately in order to reduce the flight lifespan of Bulgaria’s MiG-29 fighters, Mediapool’s sources believe.
Bulgaria’s already thinned out fleet of fifteen MiG-29 fighters has been forced to respond to the provocations from Russia. Sofia will have to pay Belarus €80 million to repair the aircraft and get them into working condition. However, Bulgaria is planning to buy 6 combat and two training F-16 Block 70 fighters from the US. The relevant contract was signed in July, costing the treasury $1.2 billion. The aircraft should start arriving in Bulgaria in 2023.