Bulgaria’s defence ministry is to sign a delayed contract for five Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan tactical transports within the next few weeks, say industry sources. Sofia selected the aircraft in April 2005, and deliveries are now expected to begin during 2007. The deal includes three option aircraft.
Sources say Bulgaria’s ability to conduct international operations will be enhanced through recently requested modifications to the aircraft’s baseline configuration, including the integration of a full defensive aids system (DAS), countermeasures and ballistic protection. The aircraft are also expected to receive enhanced communication, navigation and identification systems and will also be capable of conducting medical evacuation missions.
The defence ministry is believed to have selected the same fully integrated DAS as that to be installed on the Italian air force’s future C-27J fleet, including radar, laser and missile approach warners and chaff and flare dispensers. The self-protection equipment will be installed when required, such as when the aircraft are to conduct out-of area operations.
Bulgaria’s new aircraft will replace its air force fleet of five Antonov An-26s, which have recently been used to support troop deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. The C-27J contract will also cover the provision of training, mission support and logistics services.
- Aero Vodochody of the Czech Republic last week launched a service life extension to 12 of the Bulgarian air force’s 27 L-39ZA trainers under a support contract signed late last year.
LUCA PERUZZI / GENOA