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SOFIA, October 6. /TASS/. Bulgaria’s government has taken a decision to refuse the use of Russian-made warplanes, the electronic newspaper Trud said on Monday.
“The government (of Prime Minister Georgi) Bliznashki has decided that all Russian planes and helicopters - 15 MiG-29 jets, six MiG-21 planes and 14 Su-25 bombers - will be withdrawn from use before 2020. A riot is brewing in Bulgaria’s Air Forces, since more than 300 pilots, engineers and technicians will lose their jobs,” the Trud wrote, commenting on a decision of ministers who had approved the programme Bulgaria-NATO-2020.
The newspaper stressed that Defence Minister Velizar Shalamanov had motivated the government decision by saying that Bulgaria should be independent from Russia as far as its defence sector was concerned.
Instead of Russian-made aircraft, according to the defence minister, Bulgaria should buy eight new fighters, for which ends it needed about 300 million euro. Experts polled by the newspaper noted that this money would be enough to buy only old F-16 fighters, since new aircraft cost at least 100 million euro each.
“So far, it is not clear how to negotiate possible purchase of ‘used’ F016 planes. In 2013, Bulgaria wanted to buy them from Portugal. There are at least two more options - to buy them directly from a United State mission or from Greece, which had bought new planes and now want to get rid of older machines,” the newspaper wrote.