Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 61

Bulgaria’s deputy defense minister, Simeon Petkovski, said on March 25 that his country was negotiating the purchase of 14 MiG-29SM jet fighters from Russia as well as the establishment of a joint venture in Bulgaria to overhaul MiGs. Petkovski said the Russians had offered a $450 million loan to buy the planes and to develop an international service center at the Aviotechnica aviation plant in Plovdiv. An official of the Moscow Aviation Production Organization (MAPO), which builds the fighters, said Bulgaria would not be required to make any payments until 2001 and then would have 10 years to pay back the loan. (Reuter, March 25)

The MiG-29SM is a new version of the popular fighter that was introduced in 1995. It is a multi-role combat plane that can be used both as a fighter and as a ground attack aircraft. To aid its foreign marketing programs MAPO has been founding a number of service centers in cooperation with local companies. Presently they are in Germany, Malaysia, and India. The MAPO official said that Bulgaria could earn hard currency from the project by servicing MiGs from other Balkan countries, the Near East, and North Africa.

Defense Ministers’ Meeting Marks Time.