Poland to oust Russia as Bulgaria's jet servicer
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland will service Bulgaria's MiG-29 fighter jets after an agreement was signed on Friday.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Bulgaria, one of Moscow's closest allies during the Cold War, has a contract expiring next month with Russia to maintain the jets.
Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev said NATO ally Poland would repair the Soviet-era jets for a lower cost.
"I am convinced that we are making a historic step," Nenchev said at the signing ceremony also attended by Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.
Poland will repair the engines and other parts of three of Bulgaria's ageing jets by mid-2016 and another three aircraft by the end of next year.
All NATO members need to have at their disposal at least one combat squadron of 12 aircraft. Bulgaria, which joined the alliance in 2004, has just four MiG-29s in working order.
"We will be able to cope with the defence of our airspace on our own by the middle of next year," said Nenchev.
Bulgaria and Poland have both joined in economic sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia. Both are among six former eastern bloc nations hosting new command units staffed with national and NATO soldiers being set up in response to the Ukraine crisis. (jh)