01 Jul 15. Bulgaria to begin negotiations for ‘new’ fighter aircraft. Bulgaria has approved the procurement of a new combat aircraft type to replace its ageing MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ and Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ platforms, national media reported on 1 July. The country’s cabinet approved the purchase of an as-yet-unidentified combat aircraft to replace the air force’s Warsaw Pact-era fighters that have been in service since 1988 and 1986 respectively, according to the Novinite.com Sofia News Agency. Defence minister Nikolay Nenchev made the announcement that he is to begin negotiations with Belgium, Greece, and the Netherlands for the procurement of surplus Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, although another aircraft type from a different source remains an option. According to Nenchev, the air force requires at least nine aircraft to retain a viable ‘combat air’ capability.
While timelines were not disclosed, the minister is reported to have said that the issue of a repair agreement for the MiG-29s currently in service is not driving any deadlines as he expects a contract to be signed with Poland by the end of August at the latest. Since announcing its plans to recapitalise its combat aircraft fleet, Bulgaria has been linked to the purchase of surplus Block 25 F-16s from the US Air National Guard, F-16AM midlife upgrade aircraft from Belgium, early tranche Eurofighter Typhoons from the Italian Air Force, surplus Saab Gripens from Sweden, as well as the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder. This latest announcement by Nenchev now throws Dutch F-16AM and Greek F-16C/D platforms into the mix. The acquisition of ‘new’ fighters is expected to cost approximately BGN500m (USD283m). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Jun 15. Industry sources: Boeing agrees to extend India’s Apache, Chinook deadline for 10th time. India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has obtained another three-month extension from Boeing on its offer of attack and heavy lift helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the price negotiated for them in late 2013, industry sources said. They added that this was the 10th postponement request that Boeing had agreed to from the MoD for 22 AH-64E Apache and 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters, in a deal estimated at around USD2.5bn. The extension was agreed on 30 June and remains valid until 30 September. The MoD wrote to Boeing on 28 June asking for the deferment, as the purchase of the two helicopter types still awaits clearance by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)
28 Jun 15. Philippine DND denies delays to FA-50, helo procurements. The Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) has confirmed that contracted major aircraft procurement programmes are continuing and not suspended, as claimed in local news reports. The Manila Times reported on 25 June that the government’s Commission on Audit (CoA) had suspended Philippine Air Force (PAF) programmes to procure Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 light attack aircraft, Bell 412EP utility helicopters, and upgraded Bell UH-1 utility helicopters. The newspaper said irregularities with the three programmes had prompted their suspension. However, on 29 June DND spokesman Peter Paul G Galvez told IHS Jane’s that the reports are “inaccurate”. The CoA has not suspended the programmes, he said, but “merely suspended their scheduled audit pending the submission of additional requirements and data from the DND”.(Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Jun 15. Thailand may procure three submarines from China for $1bn. The Royal Thai Navy has reportedly shortlisted Chinese diesel electric attack submarines, after the Thai Naval procurement committee voted in favour of China’s offer. For this THB12bn ($1.06bn) project, the country also received offers from European countries, such as Russia, Sweden, and France. China’s Type 039B diesel-electric submarine report