Published on : Jan 28, 2015
Just like Poland, Bulgaria had purchased its MiG-29s at a time when it was a strategic buffer in support of the Soviets. This, however, makes hardware upgrades a little awkward today. The step of sending the old fighters off to Russia for refurbishment is rather strange at a point of time when NATO is trying to roust the impression of additional asset rotations throughout East Europe, which includes Bulgaria, wherein almost a dozen U.S. F-15s were till quite recently exercising in Graf Ignatievo.
In the year 2011, Poland had used her own state-owned facility of Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze in Bydgoszcz in order to commence the processing of sixteen of its own MiG 29s, thereby successfully swapping out mission computers, avionics, hardened GPS, and a NATO-compatible databus. This, in fact was not gold plating. They opted out of fitment for western weapons, helmet-mounted displays, and state-of-the-art counter measures. The thought behind this was that if they could in some way get one of their squadrons in the air till about 2030, that would also serve the purpose.
So it is perfectly alright for Bulgaria to think and have plans about entering into an agreement with WZL of Poland in order to refit. Apart from the awkwardness and facing the threat of sending their hens to be repaired by the fox, Bulgaria has clearly understood that the inherent issues with respect to dealing with and managing the Russian providers. Russia in the past, has also proved to be a problematic client, with finance related matters thereby harming many of the ambitious and major acquisition programs.