Bulgaria may join NATO missile shield in future: minister

21:57, June 25, 2010      

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Bulgarian Defense Minister Anyu Angelov indicated Friday that the country may join the NATO missile shield in the future and link its air defense to the bloc's missile defense system.

Angelov told a press conference that he will pay an one-week official visit to the United States starting Saturday. There he will receive "information from the primary source about the future NATO missile shield" and will discuss "improvement of the Bulgarian national air defense system which under certain conditions may act as NATO missile shield."

Countries such as Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey need missile shield, he said, because "they are in the range of missiles launched from the Middle East" and are therefore "promoters of the missile shield."

During his U.S. trip, Angelov said he will also explore the conditions for supply of U.S. multi-role fighters for the Bulgarian air forces. He or his deputies already have had such meetings with representatives from producers of Swedish multi-role Gripen fighter and the EADS Eurofighter.

Angelov added that the prospect for supplying multi-role fighters to the Bulgarian air forces will be clearer by next year, and he will insist upon signing an intergovernmental agreement on this deal rather than an agreement with companies.

The Defense Ministry said in a report in April that the best time for upgrading Bulgarian air defense system may have already passed.

It warned that because of the "insufficient number" of fighters and the budget restrictions, the training of the Bulgarian military pilots is "far below NATO standards."

Another grave issue raised by the report was that the warranty support of the MiG-29 fighters available in the Bulgarian air forces has already expired.

Source: Xinhua


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