The Bulgarian Army represents the Armed Forces of the Republic
of Bulgaria. Commander-in-Chief is the President of Bulgaria
Georgi Parvanov. The Ministry of Defense is in charge of political
leadership while military command remains in the hands of
the General Staff, headed by the Chief of Staff. Operational
elements of the Bulgarian Army include: Bulgarian Land Forces
(army), Bulgarian Navy (navy), and the Bulgarian Air Forces
The patron saint of the Bulgarian Army is St. George, and
Valor Day (May 6, also known as St. George's Day) has long
been celebrated as Valor and Army Day. It is an official
holiday in Bulgaria.
After the country became a NATO member in April 2004, the
Bulgarian Ministry of Defense has begun a new downsizing,
modernization, and reform program (known as PLAN 2004) that
will result in the adoption of a smaller force structure
of around 50,000 personnel, based upon a rapid reaction
force and two additional corps headquarters, all with subordinate
brigades. As of 1 January 2008 the military of Bulgaria
is to disband its compulsory military service .
History of the Bulgarian
Major conflicts in modern history of Bulgaria:
- Serbo-Bulgarian War 1885, Serbo-Bulgarian
- Balkan Wars 1912-1913, Balkan Wars
- World War I, World War I
- Between World Wars, Bulgaria Between World
- World War II, World War II
- Current missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For information on military conflicts in the more distant
past see History of Bulgaria
The Bulgarian Armed Forces are Headquartered in Sofia, where
most of the general staff is based. Currently headed by Chief
of Staff General Zlatan Kirilov Stoykov, the General Staff
is responsible for operational command of the Bulgarian Army
and its 3 major branches. Deputies: Vice Admiral Petar Petrov,
General Atanas Zaprianov, General Dimitar Zehtinov.
- Land Forces: Major General Ivan Dobrev
- Air Force: Major General Simeon Simeonov
- Naval Forces: Rear admiral Minko Kavaldziev
The Land Forces are functionally divided into Active and Reserve
Forces. Their main functions include deterrence, defense,
peace support and crisis management, humanitarian and rescue
missions, as well as social functions within Bulgarian society.
The Active Forces mainly
have peacekeeping and defensive duties, and are further divided
into Deployment Forces, Immediate Reaction, and Main Defense
Forces. The Reserve Forces consists of Enhancement Forces,
Territorial Defense Forces, and Training Grounds. They deal
with planning and reservist preparation, armaments and equipment
storage, training of formations for active forces rotation
or increase in personnel.
During peacetime the Land
Forces maintain permanent combat and mobilization readiness.
They become part of multinational military formations in compliance
with international treaties Bulgaria is a signatory to, participate
in the preparation of the population, the national economy
and the maintenance of wartime reserves and the infrastructure
of the country for defense.
In times of crisis the Land
Forces' main tasks relate to participation in operations countering
terrorist activities and defense of strategic facilities (such
as nuclear power plants and major industrial facilities),
assisting the security forces in proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction, illegal armaments traffic and international
In case of low- and medium-intensity
military conflict the Active Forces that are part of the Land
Forces participate in carrying out the initial tasks for the
defense of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the
In case of a military conflict
of high intensity the Land Forces, together with the Air Force
and the Navy, form the defense group of the Bulgarian Army
aiming at countering aggression and protection of the territorial
integrity and sovereignty of the country.
The Bulgarian Land Forces
are scheduled to become fully professional by 1st of January
2008, bringing an end to mandatory military service. The Bulgarian
Air Force and Naval Forces are already fully professional.
|Bulgarian Land Forces Training Operation.
|Bulgarian BMP-23 in Iraq.
|Bulgarian T-72 Tank at a parade in
National guard unit
The National guard unit of
Bulgaria is successor of the personal guards of knyaz Alexander
I, founded in 1879. On 12 July the guards escort the bulgarian
knyaz for the first time. That's why 12 July is the official
holiday of the National guard unit. Throughout the years the
structure of the guards has changed from convoy to squadron,
regiment and after 1942 - division. Today it includes military
units for army salute and wind orchestra.
In 2001 the National guard
unit is approved for official military unit of the bulgarian
army and one of the symbols of the state authority along with
the flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem.
Inventory of the Bulgarian
Infantry weapons :
* automatic weapons : AK-47
* 200 antitank missiles AT-3, AT-4, AT-5
* 432 tanks T-72
* 300 tanks T-55
Armored vehicles :
* 60 BRDM-1 to BRDM-2
* 114 BMP-2 to BMP-3
* 80 BMP-1
* 618 BTR-60
* 900 MT-LB
* 218 multiple-launch rocket
system BM-21 -- 122 mm
* 205 cannons D-20 -- 152 mm
* 193 cannons M-30 -- 122 mm
* 687 self-propelled howitzers 2S1 Gvozdika -- 122 mm
* 68 self-propelled howitzers SU-100 -- 100 mm
* 359 self-propelled guns 2S11 -- 120 mm
|Change of the guards
The navy has been largely overlooked in the reforms that the
Bulgarian armed forces had to go through in order to comply
with NATO standards, mostly because of the great expense involved
and the fact that naval assaults are not considered to be
a great concern for the country's security. That is why three
of the four combat submarines (excluding Slava) are now docked
and have been out of operation for some time. Only the more
modern frigates, corvettes and missile crafts are on active
In order to meet at least
some of the NATO requirements, in 2005 the Bulgarian government
bought from Belgium a Wielingen-class frigate, the BNS Wandelaar
(F-912) (built in 1977), and after being renamed to the BG
Druzki the frigate serves as the flagship of the Bulgarian
Navy. In 2006, following a decision of the Bulgarian Parliament,
Druzki took part in the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon
(UNIFIL), patrolling the territorial waters of Lebanon under
German command. This was the first time ever the Bulgarian
Navy took part in an international peacekeeping operation.
The Bulgarian government plans to purchase a second Wielingen-class
frigate and at least four french state of the art Gowind 200
corvettes, preferably built in Bulgaria by Armaris,a joint
company of the French DCN and Thales Group. According to the
Ministry of Defense, the Bulgarian Navy should have at least
one new corvette by 2010.
The Bulgarian Navy is centered
in two main bases. One is near the city of Varna. The other
is Atiya, near the city of Bourgas.
|Wielingen class frigate. F911 Westdiep
- sistership of F912 Wandelaar (Bulgarian "Drazki")
Naval Aircraft inventory
At this time the Navy's only aircraft comprise 12 Mil Mi-14PL
helicopters for anti-submarine patrol, search and rescue,
and other naval support tasks located near Varna . 6 Eurocopter
Panther are expected to enter service in the near future.
the past decade Bulgaria has been trying actively to restructure
its army as a whole and a lot of attention has been placed
on keeping the aging Russian aircraft operational. Currently
the attack and defence branches of the Bulgarian air force
are comprised mainly of MIG-21s, MIG-29s and Su-25s. There
are also several Su-22s, used primary for surveillance purposes.
About 16 MiG-29 fighters are being modernized in order to
meet NATO standards and until now everything is going according
to plan (7 jets will be ready by September 2007). In about
2 years time the government intends to purchase 16
modern jet fighters but due to the lack of funding the procedure
of choosing the best alternative could prolong itself. The
main competitors are expected to be Eurofighter, Dassault
Rafale, JAS 39 Gripen, F-15 and F-18. In 2006 the Bulgarian
government signed a contract with Alenia Aeronautica for the
delivery of five C-27J Spartan transport aircraft in order
to replace the old soviet made An-24 and An-26. The first
Spartan is expected to arrive in year 2007 and the remaining
four until 2011.
Modern EU-made transport
helicopters were purchased in 2005 and until now 3 have arrived.
In 2-3 years the Bulgarian Air Force will have 12 Eurocopter
Cougar helicopters (8 attack and 4 transport), and the Navy
- 6 Eurocopter Panther. Until then the Bulgarian Air force
would have to rely on the Mi-24s and Mi-17s. Recently, the
Ministry of Defense terminated the contract with Elbit Systems
for modernizing 12 Mi-24 and 6 Mi-17 helicopters.
Branches of the airforce
include: fighter aviation, assault aviation, intelligence
aviation and transportation aviation, aid defense troops,
radio-technical troops, communications troops, radio-technical
support troops, logistics and medical troops.
||Bulgarian Eurocopter Cougar arriving at Krumovo Air