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Berlin wants to sell its Eurofighters. Not right away answers Sofia

(credit: Bundeswehr)

(BRUSSELS2) The visit to Germany of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boïko Borissov on January 17 and 18 should be an opportunity to discuss in more depth Bulgaria's acquisition of used Eurofighter fighters. An order which could concern eight devices. Germany would offer a complete package including training for Bulgarian pilots, according to the Bulgarian daily Standart. The main subject of these talks is the financial crisis but also the reimbursement by Bulgaria of the loan taken out for the new Siemens engines.

German surpluses to the East

This resale of second-hand devices by Germany is not isolated according to the economic daily Financial Times Deutschland which launched the information. Several other European countries are interested in acquiring a recent aircraft at a price that is not prohibitive: the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia and Romania. A way for German defense to find new resources that it can no longer find in the federal budget, i.e. to make new acquisitions (a point denied by the German Ministry of Defense, there is no question of move to the third tranche of Eurofigther and purchase 37 more devices), i.e. to maintain and modernize existing equipment.

Butter and culture instead of weapons

The Prime Minister, however, denied this assertion last Wednesday in Burgas, as reported by the Bulgarian news agency Novinite: “ We have good Mig devices, in excellent condition. With all the respect I have for military industrialists, I prefer that we invest our money in science, culture, education (NB: the Prime Minister inaugurated a renovated theatre). One of the main difficult discussions I will have with (Chancellor) Merkel will be to explain to her that we cannot use 150 million euros to pay these hunters in a time of crisis. ". What the Bulgarian press summarizes in a slogan “according to the principle of “butter rather than weapons”. The long-planned call for tenders for these planes could also be postponed to 2013, as Defense Minister Anyu Angelov recently clarified.

A fleet to replace and multiple pressures

Bulgaria today has Mig 29, a relatively recent Russian aircraft, but which should be replaced by 2015. In its equipment plan, the Bulgarian army planned to renew its aircraft by equipping itself with aircraft more recent multi-role, and above all interoperational with those of NATO. Several planes are in the running: the American plane F-16 or the F-18, the Swedish Gripen and the European Eurofighter. And the Americans, in the past, did not hesitate - through their ambassador there - to put pressure on the Bulgarian authorities to encourage them to renounce the acquisition of European equipment, too expensive according to them, and to instead develop their land army and buy cheaper… that is to say American. A cable from Wikileaks revealed the actions of the American ambassador in Sofia, John Beyrle (For those who want to go further on this subject, you can read the article in Bulgarian published in the Standard a year ago or in Frenchanalysis by journalist Alexandre Levy on the purchase of French corvettes).

Comments: Until now, the resale of second-hand aircraft was the favorite sector of the Americans, who thus made it possible to renew their own fleet and maintain a certain pre-eminence for their national production in Europe. The placing on the market by the Germans of a batch of modern Eurofighters could lead to a more European standard. However, we cannot help but appreciate the doublespeak not only of the Americans but also of the Europeans. On the one hand, we have an Angela Merkel inflexible on debts, ready for the worst sanctions for states which do not respect budgetary orthodoxy; on the other, we have the German Chancellor, much more fluid, when it comes to selling off her military surpluses.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

One thought on “Berlin wants to sell its Eurofighters. Not right away answers Sofia"

  • Hello,

    To support your point, I suggest this reading from a site specializing in the production of Soviet and Russian armaments:

    Thus, the Slovak Mig-29s were modernized and “NATOized” by a local company with the assistance of RSK-MIG.

    “There are several reasons for this. First, it is cheap hardware. A new MiG-29 costs about $25-30 million, while the second-hand American F-16 that the United States supplies to Poland costs $40-50 million. The modernization of the MiG costs between 5 and 7 million dollars, depending on the volume and complexity of the work.

    “Leaving aside the Slovak MiGs, it should be noted that Russian specialists can ensure full compatibility, without breaching NATO confidentiality, with the requirements of the reconnaissance system adopted in NATO. In Greece, a country that has been part of the Alliance for a long time, the entire anti-aircraft system, starting with the man-portable Igla missile systems up to the Tor-M1, Buk-M2 and Buk-M300 short-, medium- and long-range missile systems S-1PMUXNUMX “Favorit” is made up of Russian missiles, but their automatic recognition system includes codes from the North Atlantic Alliance. It is integrated into Russian war material without the slightest risk of seeing sensitive military secrets exposed. This is one more argument against politicians and generals in Brussels and Washington who put forward all sorts of pretexts, and most often, technical and technological incompatibility, to prevent deliveries of Russian war material to the West. It is perfectly clear that these are not technical barriers, which do not exist, but a desire to promote the economic and financial interests of Western arms firms. And in this context, the economic and financial interests of certain “small” countries are often overlooked.”

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