Bulgaria risks being without a fighter jet for the next two years as maintenance on its aging MiG-29 fighter jets will not be completed before it receives its first F-16s from the US.
Euractiv writes about it.
By the end of this year, eight Bulgarian MiG-29 fighter jets are due to be decommissioned, and engine repairs carried out by Poland have not taken place as planned.
On Monday, it was reported that Poland may sell only one MiG-29 engine to Bulgaria, although Bulgaria expects two, and possibly four at a later date.
Bulgaria is only expected to upgrade its fleet from 2025, as the 16 F-16 Block 70 fighter jets it ordered from the US will not be delivered until 2025, and training will continue for another two years.
In the meantime, NATO allies will have to step in to protect the airspace of this vital part of the Alliance's eastern flank.
Active negotiations are currently underway with Sweden, France and Israel, with the most likely to receive French Mirage 2000 or Swedish Grippen fighters.
"We did not receive any offers from the countries to which the request was made. Negotiations with Israel, Sweden and France are continuing," said Bulgarian Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov.
In order to receive new aircraft, Bulgarian airports must also be properly equipped. "I hope that by the middle of 2024, all the infrastructure projects of the Graf Ignatievo military airport will be completed," Stoyanov said about the reconstruction, which has already been delayed for two years.