Will the Bulgarians Borrow the RD-33 Engines for their MiG-29 fighters from Poland?
Due to the problems related to the overhauls of the Bulgarian MiG-29 fighters, an idea emerged to “borrow” four RD-33 engines for them from Poland, as Nikolay Nenchev, head of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence, stated during a press conference. Polish MoD denies these rumours.
Declaration related to “borrowing” four engines from Poland for the Bulgarian MiG-29 has been made by Nikolay Nenchev, who is the Bulgarian Minister of Defence. His statement also listed other possible solutions of solving the problem of maintaining the combat readiness status of the Bulgarian Fulcrums. Nenchev stated that the solution mentioned above had been discussed with the Polish officials, during his visit to Warsaw, which took place in mid-February.
Bulgaria, since many months, has been struggling to carry out the overhauls of the Fulcrum fighters. Due to the budgetary constraints, acquisition of new fighters from the West has been postponed until 2016, or even later. This year’s defence spending plan does not include any assets to be spent in order to realize this task. In order to realize the NATO commitments, and to maintain the bare minimum of air-defence measures, Bulgaria is forced to keep the MiG-29 fighters in a combat-ready status.
Meanwhile, Russia is systematically increasing the costs, that Bulgaria needs to bear, in order to maintain and service the jet. Bulgaria is a NATO member state – this must be noted here. The agreement related to the Russian maintenance services expires in September this year. Currently, it is expected that a new offer is to be placed soon, however, negotiations have been started, involving the Polish Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze nr. 2 (Military Aviation Works No. 2), based in Bydgoszcz. This facility has completed the modernization works related to the Polish Fulcrums. The Bydgoszcz-based company is currently dealing with servicing of the Polish MiG’s. According to the WZL-2 representatives, the talks are still going on. Bulgaria is interested in the Polish offer, however they are afraid that acquisition of the Russian-made components may pose some problems.
Neither WZL-2, nor the Polish Ministry of Defence were able to provide us with information, according to which “borrowing” or temporary “loaning” of the RD-33 engines, for use by the MiG-29 fighters of the Bulgarian Air Force would be possible. MoD spokesman, col. Jacek Sońta, denied the fact that this issue had been discussed during the Nenchev’s visit to Poland. Sońta stated that should Bulgaria be willing to acquire the MiG-29 engines from Poland, they will not be provided from the inventory of the State Treasury, they will also not belong to the Polish Army.