Bulgarian defence minister Anyu Angelov is to cut several procurement programmes in an effort to save funds.

The defence ministry wants to negotiate with Alenia Aeronautica to reduce the air force's C-27J Spartan transport order from five to three aircraft, and intends to halve the navy's acquisition of six Eurocopter AS565MB Panther helicopters, he says.

No agreement has been reached with Alenia Aeronautica about altering Sofia's February 2006 contract for the C-27J. Additional payments are due for Bulgaria's third aircraft, which was originally due for delivery in September 2009, but remains at the company's Turin Caselle site in Italy.

 C-27J Bulgaria - Alenia Aeronautica
© Alenia Aeronautica

Bulgaria's contract with Eurocopter is worth €358 million, and also includes 12 AS532 Cougar transport helicopters for the air force. Eleven of these had been delivered to Krumovo air base by last year, with the last still in storage at Eurocopter's Marignane plant due to unpaid bills totalling almost €89 million.

AS565 deliveries had been scheduled to start early this year, but Angelov says the defence budget cannot support the €120 million procurement of six helicopters.

 Panther Bulgaria - apgphoto
© apgphoto gallery on flightglobal.com/AirSpace
Eurocopter displayed Bulgaria's first AS565 at the 2009 Paris air show

Meanwhile, Angelov intends to discuss the possible joint procurement of fighters with Romania, which recently announced its intention to acquire secondhand Lockheed Martin F-16s. A meeting will be organised soon to discuss the matter and other subjects, such as potential future co-operation on air policing tasks.

The Bulgarian defence ministry is meanwhile seeking funds to place a follow-on support contract with RSK MiG to guarantee the near-term availability of its remaining MiG-29s, Angelov says.

Source: Flight International