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10:54 AM, August 19, 2014
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Bulgaria has announced a $680 million program to upgrade its weapons in an effort to minimize its dependency on Russia by 2020.

Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov said that the ministry aims to ensure that Bulgaria’s defense industry takes part in the designed program.

According to local reports, the most important military procurements in the coming years will include acquisition of new multipurpose fighter jets by the Bulgarian Air Force. Currently, all fighter jets operated by Bulgaria are Russia-built. These include the MiG-21, MiG-29 and the Sukhoi Su-25.

Other major armament programs in the pipeline include acquisition of a new submarine and an undisclosed number of new vessels for the Navy, according to the minister.

Shalamanov said the ministry is aiming to draft a program that will enable the government to boost military expenditure to 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Currently, Bulgaria is spending about 1.3 percent of its GDP on national defense, according to Defense News.

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