Bulgaria | Request for surveillance of its airspace by Greek fighter jets
Defence Redefined
Published on 08/06/2023 at 17:55

Greece is in negotiations for the assumption of air policing duties of another neighboring country, always through NATO channels.

According to Kathimerini, Bulgaria submitted to the Greek side a request through NATO for the three-month air policing of the Bulgarian airspace within the framework of the relevant mission (Nato Air Policing).

It is recalled that the Hellenic Air Force already, together with Italy, carries out air policing missions at the airspaces of Albania, Montenegro, and Skopje.

In the specific countries, the responsibility is divided per fortnight (15 days for Greece, 15 for Italy) in the context of the wider policy followed by NATO; in other words, the airspace of a member state of the North Atlantic Treaty should not be the sole responsibility of the Air Force of one country.

The request for Hellenic Air Force assistance in Bulgarian airspace has been discussed at the diplomatic level as well as at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). Bulgaria has a limited fleet of old MIG-29A fighters, whose capabilities are restricted.

In fact, the war in Ukraine and the looming breakdown of relations at the level of military equipment has led Sofia to the decision to order two batches of eight of American-made F-16C/D 70s. The first aircraft is not expected to land in Bulgaria until 2025.

Given this and based on the fact that the existing MIG-29As of the Bulgarian Air Force have very low availability in order to meet the increased needs of airspace surveillance, it is not surprising that the discussions started at the Bulgarian initiative.

These discussions in fact rekindle the scenarios for the possibility that Bulgaria will grant some of the fighters it has to Ukraine. These discussions, of course, take place on a completely different level.

The contacts between Athens and Sofia in the field of air policing are the latest incident in the increasingly close contacts that have been cultivated between the two countries, especially after the two countries cooperated in the field of natural gas.

Bulgaria imports LNG through Alexandroupolis, while in the coming months it will be seen whether it is really possible to build an oil transport pipeline from Burgas to Alexandroupolis.

Also read: “Green Bridge 2021” | Greece – Bulgaria Air Exercise




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