Some military pilots in Bulgaria are refusing to fly Russian MiG-29 fighters during training flights, citing security issues of the obsolete airplanes, stated Atanas Zapryanov, the Deputy Minister of Defense of Bulgaria, Radio Liberty reports.
“Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov accused the pilots who refused to fly the Russian aircraft of carrying out a politically motivated campaign. He insists that Bulgaria will restore all of its MiG-29s and about 20 Russian Su-25 bombers,” the report said.
Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004, but most of the country’s military equipment is still Russian. The Bulgarian Air Force has seven MiG-29 aircraft in usable condition.
The Balkan country announced that it would spend €770 million to replace them with eight new fighters. Since May, the conservative Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has been opposed to the former military pilot, President Rumen Radev and opposition Socialists in the matter of acquiring new aircraft.
The provisional government, appointed by Radev, decided that Bulgaria would buy Swedish-built Gripen aircraft. But the parliamentary committee vetoed this decision in June and suggested that used American F-16 fighters and Eurofighter Typhoons be purchased from Portugal.
In September it was reported that Bulgaria intends to seek the lifting of sanctions against the Russian Federation during its term of presidency in the EU.