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Dec 20, 2017 17:12 EEST
December 20 (SeeNews) - A complaint over the procedure for awarding a contract for maintenance of 15 Russian-made MiG-29 fighters of the Bulgarian Air Force submitted by a Ukrainian company has blocked the overhaul of the ageing aircraft, Bulgaria's defence ministry said on Wednesday.
"As a result of the complaint of Ukrainian state-owned company Ukroboronoprom and the blocked procedure, the maintenance of our military aviation is suspended. The funds allocated for the project are transferred back to the state budget and it will take at least three to four months for new funds for repair and maintenance of Bulgarian combat aircraft to be provided," the ministry said in a statement.
The Ukrainian company has not paid the required fee for submitting its complaint to Bulgaria's competition authority, which suggests that its only purpose was to block the procedure, according to the ministry.
The estimated cost of the project for keeping the 15 MiG-29 jets airworthy is 81.3 million levs ($49 million/ 41.5 million euro).
Earlier on Wednesday, Bulgaria's public radio broadcaster BNR reported that Ukrainian company Ukrinmash has submitted the complaint to the Commission for Protection of Competition. Ukrinmash is part of Ukraine's state concern Ukroboronprom, according to information posted on the website of the concern.
In December, the Bulgarian defence ministry invited the manufacturer of the jets, Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, to sign a framework agreement for their overhaul as the sole owner of the licences for their maintenance. The project calls for integrated logistics support of 12 MiG-29A jets and and three trainers MiG-29 UB, for a period of four years supporting a total of 1,450 flight hours per year, according to a notice published on the website of the Public Procurement Agency.
Bulgaria's government said last week it approved the allocation of up to 19.9 million levs ($12 million/4.9 million euro) from the defence ministry budget to a project aimed to ensure the airworthiness of the MiG-29 aircraft.
The implementation of the project will create the necessary conditions for the Air Force to maintain and develop capabilities for air policing, as well as to implement NATO’s collective defence mechanisms and EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, the government said.
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