Attrition: Reviving A Dying Breed

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August 21, 2009: Bulgaria is, for the first time in ten years, training more MiG-29 pilots. Throughout the 1990s, and until about five years ago, Bulgaria gradually disbanded its Cold War era air force of 226 aircraft. These days, all they have left is 18 Russian MiG-29s (being upgraded to meet NATO standards), some Su-25s (for ground attack), a few MiG-21s (soon to be gone), some Su-22s (used for reconnaissance) and a few dozen transports and helicopters. One by one, most air bases were shut down, and the Russian made aircraft (most of them obsolete) sold for scrap.

Western aircraft are being bought, but the MiG-29s are being kept because they are competitive with Western fighters. The existing MiG-29 pilots are getting old, and many of them have already left for more lucrative commercial flying job. Thus the need for another dozen MiG-29 pilots. Their training will be completed by the end of the year.

The MiG-29 has lost out to the Su-27/30 in export and domestic sales. The MiG-29 has reliability problems and is seen as doomed. So pilots are rarely trained for it anymore.

 


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