BTA News

Defence Minister: Cabinet Has Clear, Coherent Policy to Strengthen Defence Capabilities

The government has a clear and consistent policy to strengthen defence capabilities, which includes securing the necessary budget, Defence Minister Todor Tagarev said on Bulgarian National Television’s morning show on Monday. He noted that a plan to increase spending in the sector is in place since 2018 and the cabinet is following it.

Tagarev pointed out that the target for defence spending for both this and next year will be reached and surpassed. “Over 2% (2.05%) of the Gross Domestic Product has been earmarked for defence and this enables us to invest very heavily in people, weapons and equipment,” the Defence Minister explained. He stated that the defence budget for 2023 was BGN 800 million higher and next year it will be another BGN 800 million higher than the current one.

Tagarev said the budged growth is used for three major projects: for the Air Force (F-16 Block 70 aircraft), for the Navy (two multi-role modular light frigate-type patrol vessel) and for the Land Forces (the project for Stryker combat vehicles). He also added that these are large projects and, although there will be around BGN 18 billion for investment in the period until 2032, nearly BGN 9 billion of them have already been earmarked for these three projects, as well as some smaller radar projects.

The first aircraft should arrive in the first quarter of 2025, the Defence Minister noted. Both ships are under construction, with one already on the water and the second in an advanced phase. The Stryker armoured vehicles should start arriving from mid-2025, he also pointed out. “In a short time we will see the Bulgarian Armed Forces transformed,” Tagarev stated and added that a procedure for 3D radars was also started and should be completed soon.

Commenting on the military aid to Ukraine, he explained that the armoured personnel carriers were at Interior Ministry’s disposal and had not been used for decades. “Work is underway on how they will be transported to Ukraine,” Tagarev explained and added that the Defence Ministry, Interior Ministry and Transport Ministry will have to organize the transport of the machines, as “the costs are not large”.