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Bulgaria gets closer to the OPV deal

According to the Bulgaria weekly Капитал (eng. Capital) the Bulgarian government is closing a deal with the German shipyard Lürssen Werft GmbH on procurement of two offshore patrol vessels (New Bulgarian OPVs on the horizon, 2019-06-04). The newspaper states that according to country’s defense minister, Krasimir Karakachanov, the contract could be signed within days. However, the Capital itself indicates that it is more probable, that the deal will be reached in the beginning of November.

The Bulgarian Navy has a requirement for two modular, multi-role patrol vessels, which would be capable of performing various types of tasks, such as anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. New vessels should be armed with 76mm naval guns, anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles, lightweight torpedo and close-in weapon systems for self-defence. They should also have a flight deck capable of accommodating a medium size naval helicopter / Image by: Lürssen

The contract for new OPVs is expected to have a value of 984 million BGN (€503 million). The payment should be made in several tranches and concluded in 9 years.

However, according to the Capital the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense (MoD) considers implementing a special payment plan, under which the majority of the amount should be transferred at the beginning of the contract. Therefore, Lürssen Werft GmbH won’t be forced to take a bank loan for covering the cost of OPVs construction, and in result the overall contract cost should be reduced.

The other reason for covering the majority of procurement programme’s cost early after its commencement, is the MoD’s wish to guarantee that it won’t be suddenly cancelled later on, as some elements of the Bulgarian political class are said to be critical over the selection of the Lürssen Werft GmbH as OPVs constructor and would prefer to have the vessels procured from the Italian Fincantieri group.

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