SOFIA, Bulgaria, April 5 (UPI) -- Bulgarian lawmakers have given the country's defense ministry the green light to proceed on a $1.4 billion dollar effort to revitalize the country's aging air and naval assets.
The Bulgarian government has approved three programs to acquire new fighter jets, modernize the country's Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft and purchase new patrol vessels, worth a total of 2.42 billion leva (US $1.4 billion), reports local news agency Novinite.
The two new patrol ships are expected to arrive in the Bulgarian fleet within the next three to six years, Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev said in an official statement, as reported by Defense News.
Sofia plans to break the 16-plane buy into two stages. Contracts for the first eight aircraft will be signed this year, with deliveries expected over the next five years. The second batch of new fighters will enter the Bulgarian air force by 2023, according to defense officials.
Ministry officials did not provide details as to what type of attack aircraft the country's military leaders were planning on purchasing.
On the modernization side, work on the 10 MiG-29s will begin this year and extend into 2017. The acquisition plan is part of Bulgaria's efforts to being its armed forces in line with NATO and the European Union's Common Security and Defence Policy by 2020.