There is a shock approval by the Bulgarian government for the modernization of our obsolete Soviet T-72 tanks, which still continue to play a fundamental role in the field of the native ground forces.
Less than a week has passed since the government concluded a contract for combat vehicles worth BGN 50 million for the special forces without any competition, and here is another military deal of such a serious scale, „Capital“ reported. Surprisingly or not, the Council of Ministers has no information on the number of tanks, the planned improvements and the amount of the repairs.
According to unofficial data, the modernization scheme includes nearly 40 machines that need to be upgraded in about 2-3 years. Once we draw the line, the bill will amount to a modest BGN 50 million, but according to sources close to the military centers – the figure could jump sharply to BGN 80 million. Roughly speaking, Bulgaria has about 80 T-72 tanks.
„Tanks remain the basic unit on which the combat power of the ground forces is formed. As the main means of defeating enemy tanks and armored combat vehicles, they must have the ability to prepare in a short time, accuracy, range, improved mobility, survivability, operational camouflage and autonomy.“, the Ministry explained their motives.
The objectives of the project are also to overcome the technological backwardness of the tanks in terms of security of communications, fire control systems, as well as situational awareness.
The interesting thing comes when we ask ourselves the question – how exactly will the modernization be done? The decision of the Bulgarian government nowhere mentions exactly which company will take over the project. Previous statements by the Minister of Defense Krassimir Karakachanov suggest that it is most likely a matter of the military-repair holding “Terem”.
Again, it is clear from unconfirmed official information that only the rougher work on assembly will be done there, for example. Combat fire control, communications and defense systems are no longer to be supplied by Israel’s “Elbit”. The company made a presentation about a year ago about the possibilities it has for modifying the T-72 in question. Sources close to the military ministry suggest that the entire modernization of the tanks is just a step that paves the way for the next stage. It will be equipped with the ability to fire Israeli missiles through the cannon. Most likely we are talking about „Eurospike“.
Why is our Ministry of Defence once again using „back doors“ in the Public Procurement Act? Why does the conceptual argument „protection of national security“ not allow an auction to be held?
We all have a clear idea that the motives are probably in support of the military industry in our country, as well as for the rescue of the Terem holding, which is sinking in a financial quagmire from time to time. However, an alleged tender for the modernization of tank facilities would attract the attention of more potential contractors. Such as companies from the Czech Republic and Poland, former members of the Warsaw Pact. For their part, they would find motivation to make more acceptable price offers for better technical parameters.