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Bulgaria joins the European Air Shield initiative with 11 other countries

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A draft memorandum for the joint purchase of ground-based air defence systems within the framework of the ‘European Sky Shield’ initiative was approved by the Bulgarian government on Wednesday, making it the 12th European nation to do so, according to Euractiv.

When acquiring weapon systems for ground-based air defence, they will be able to be integrated into the architecture of the “NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defense System” and will be part of a single system for missile defence and air defence in Europe.

It is known that the intentions are to jointly acquire modern Western air defence systems Arrow 3 and Patriot.

“The approval of the memorandum provides an opportunity for Bulgaria to join programs for the joint purchase, maintenance and use of weapon systems for ground-based air defence (GBAD),” the government explained.

The other countries in the memorandum are Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Slovenia.

Bulgaria has several old Soviet C-300 anti-aircraft missile systems that are not compatible with NATO standards. Currently, these complexes have no alternative, and Bulgaria refused to provide them to Ukraine at the beginning of the war.

The Bulgarian army does not have modern military radars and relies on civil aviation systems, which do not have full coverage over the country’s territory.

A year ago, the caretaker Minister of Defense, Dimitar Stoyanov, signed a Letter of Intent to include Bulgaria in Germany’s European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) defence capability initiative. Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that Germany would invest heavily in air defence in the coming years.

The country is seriously exploring the possibility of building an air dome like the one Israel created to defend against Hamas rocket attacks.

“It is a system of mutually based air defence systems. This initiative is fully in sync with the EU’s desire to conduct joint public procurement,” Stoyanov said a year ago.