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Bulgaria issues tender for Su-25 CAS aircraft overhaul

The Bulgarian Air Force (BuAF) is planning to conduct the maintain, repair and overhaul (MRO) of its Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO reporting name: Frogfoot) close air support (CAS) aircraft, according to Bulgaria`s Ministry of Defense (MoD).

Bulgaria issues tender for Su 25 CAS aircraft overhaul 001 Two Bulgarian Air Force Su-25 CAS Aircraft
(Credit: Bulgarian MoD)

On August 21, the MoD issued a request for proposals (RfP) for MRO and small upgrade of 10 Su-25K (Frogfoot) CAS aircraft and four Su-25UBK (Frogfoot) operational trainers of the BuAF. "The works will be done under a framework agreement, which will allow the military to upgrade its Su-25-family aircraft on an annual basis within budget limitations," the document says. The MRO and modernization works will result in the extension of the service life of the airframes and R-95Sh jet engines by no less than 800 flight hours and no less than 500 flight hours, respectively.

The modernization of the BuAF Su-25 aircraft will cost BGN41 million (USD24.3 million); in fact, this sum of money will allow the Bulgarian military to upgrade only seven Su-25 aircraft. Bulgaria`s government has complemented the tender with an option, according to which the budget of the program may be increased to BGN82.51 million (USD48.58 million) exclusive of VAT.

The service life of the Bulgarian Su-25 aircraft expired nearly 10 years ago. Since that time, the BuAF air engineering service has been extending it, and now the service operates a small number of Frogfoots in flyaway condition.

It should be mentioned that the extension of the service life of the BuAF Su-25s should be approved by the developer of the aerial platform, namely, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). According to the official documents, the BuAF operational Su-25 CAS aircraft and Su-25UBK trainers have a background of 741-1,053 flight hours and 1,244-1,570 flight hours, respectively. The service says only two companies have technical capabilities to conduct the MRO and modernization of the Frogfoot, namely, JSC 121st Aviation Repair Plant (Kubinka, Russia) and JSC 558th Aviation Repair Plant (Baranovichi, Belarus). The schedule of the BuAF Su-25 program envisages modernization of the aerial platforms in 2019-2022.

According to the technical requirements of the Bulgarian military, the updated Su-25K/UBK aircraft will get a new onboard protection suite, radio, and navigation system, as well as the R-73 (AA-11 Archer) short-range air-to-air missiles.

In August 2017, Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov said the BuAF fleet of fighters and CAS aircraft were urgently requiring additional financing. He added that the modernization of the Su-25s would allow the BuAF to extend the service life of its Frogfoots to 2030.

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