Bulgaria Prepares to Allow Joint Air Policing Missions with NATO Allies
Bulgaria will amend its legislation to allow military aircraft of other NATO member states to conduct policing of the country’s air space jointly with the Bulgarian Air Force, the Defence Ministry has announced.
The ministry said on its website on Wednesday it is launching consultations on draft amendment to the Law on Defense and Armed Forces, which aim to ensure that the policing of Bulgarian air space will not be conducted solely by forces and aircraft of Bulgaria’s NATO allies.
The planned changes will be made in such a way as to guarantee that Bulgaria won’t relinquish sovereignty of its air space to other countries, according to the ministry.
The projected amendments are being called for by a need to enhance NATO’s capabilities to police the air space of the countries on its eastern flank, including Bulgaria, as recommended by the Alliance’s Summit in Wales last year.
Bulgaria has remained the only country on the southeastern flank of NATO to meet its commitments to NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense on its own, the ministry said.
The proposed legislative amendments have to be approved by the government and parliament to go into force.
Six Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 fighter jets will have their engines overhauled in Poland, according to an intergovernmental letter of intent signed in Sofia in late August. The agreement drew fire from the Russian producer of the aircraft RSK MiG who said that Poland has no licence or documentation whatsoever to repair MiG-29s.
Bulgaria needs to have at least one fighter squadron of 12 aircraft in order to maintain high level of combat readiness as a NATO member state. Currently, there are four flight-worthy MiG-29s with enough flying capacity in the Bulgarian Air Force, therefore the year 2015 is critical from the point of view of military aviation, according to the Defence Ministry.
Only two MiG-29s could remain flight-worthy and with enough flying capacity after the middle of next year unless the engines of other MiG-29 are repaired.
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