Bulgaria’s Cabinet has approved a plan for the Italian Air Force to deploy four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft to assist in guarding Bulgaria’s air space from July to October 2017.
The mission is part of security measures by Nato member countries on the alliance’s eastern flank, a government statement after the June 21 Cabinet meeting said.
The mission will be carried out under the plans and procedures of the Nato Alliance for Air Defence and Missile Defence (NATINAMDS).
The Italian Air Force will deploy the Eurofighters and up to 110 staff from July to November at the Graf Ignatievo air base and the tasks will be performed from July 15 to October 15.
Italian duty aircraft will perform airborne duties, interception, visual observation and escort duties.
The Bulgarian Air Force will continue to fulfill its duties under NATINAMDS, the statement said.
Each party will bear the cost of its own forces and resources involved in the activities of enhancing air security.
Nato Air Space Security is a peacetime collective defence mission. Its purpose is to guarantee the integrity and security of alliance air space, the Bulgarian government statement said.
In Bulgaria’s process of acquiring new fighter jets to replace its ageing and costly MiG-29s, one of three bidders to submit formal documentation in 2016 was Italy with an offer of Eurofighters.
A military expert committee ranked Sweden’s offer of Gripens the highest. Most observers see scant chance that Bulgaria would accept Italy’s offer of Eurofighters because it would be the most expensive option of the three. The other offer is from Portugal, of second-hand US-made F-16s.