Bulgarian Air Force
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Air Force

Su-25K serial 196 (photo via Chris Remy)

Current Title: Bulgarski Voennovazdushni Sili
Title in English: Bulgarian Air Force
Abbreviation: BVVS


Narrative Summary:
Air Force History

Key Dates:
20 April 1906*    Aeronautical Platoon established to operate balloons
July 1912*    First Army pilots return from training in France
13 August 1912*    Simeon Petrov becomes first Bulgar to pilot an aeroplane over Bulgaria
16 October 1912*    First combat operations by Bulgarian aircraft
2 November 1912*    First Aeroplane Platoon retrospectively authorised
27 September 1915*    First fighter aircraft (3 x Fokker E.III) delivered
2 October 1915*    Bulgaria enters First World War on the side of Germany
21 April 1916    First aerial combat using aircraft mounted guns
30 September 1916    Fokker E.III shoots down intruder near Sofia - first aerial victory
2 April 1917    Albatros C.III shot down - first combat loss to enemy fighters
29 September 1918    Bulgaria surrenders to the Allies
27 November 1919    Treaty of Neuilly bans all Bulgarian aviation
late December 1920    Disbanding of Army Aviation Corps completed
25 January 1921    Gendarmerie Air Squadron established
30 March 1922    Gendarmerie Air Squadron disbanded
1923    Bulgarian civil aviation approved by International Aviation Convention
1927    Three clandestine military air squadrons established
1930    Aeronautical Regiment formed to control military aviation
28 July 1934    Royal Bulgarian Air Force (Vazdushni Voyski = Air Army) established
1937    Neuilly Treaty restrictions abandoned - rapid expansion of Air Force initiated
30 May 1940    Air Force becomes an independent armed service
2 March 1941    German 12th Army and Fliegerkorps VIII move into Bulgaria
late April 1941    Air units support Bulgarian army occupation of Macedonia
1 August 1943    First major Allied air raid to pass through Bulgarian airpace
14 November 1943    First major Allied air raid on Sofia
26 August 1944    Bulgaria declares neutrality in Russo-German war
9 September 1944    Air operations against German forces begin
2 December 1944    Combat air operations over Yugoslavia cease
1945    First Soviet aircraft delivered
1953    First jet fighters delivered
1961    Bulgarian Air Force renamed PVOiVVS (Air Defence and Air Force)
1992    Bulgarian Air Force renamed Bulgarski Voennovazdushni Sili (BVVS)
Sept 1994    Regiment-based organisation replaced by one centred on air bases
* Julian calendar dates (13 days behind Gregorian calendar).

Current Status:
A major rationalisation of the Air Force, called Plan 2004, is currently being enacted, which will reduce it's size from 465 aircraft to 218. Aircraft serviceability continues to be a serious problem, with many aircraft grounded.

Future Plans:
Air bases at Kamenetz, Bezmier and Graf Ignatievo to be upgraded with funding from NATO.
Six MiG-29s are receiving an avionics upgrade by a MiG/Thales team to make them NATO compatible.
Eight Su-25s are to receive a similar upgrade to make them compatible with NATO.
A contract for 12-20 new fighters is expected to be placed 2005-2007.


National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Coding system not used


Aircraft Designation System(s):
To be added.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order --- Chronological Order

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service


Main Headquarters:
To be added.

Current Organisational Structure:
On 1st June 2003 the Bulgarian armed forces introduced some organisational changes. The BVVS is now organised into an Air Defence Command and a Tactical Air Command.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
List of Historical Orders of Battle

All-Time Flying Units List:
List of Bulgarian AF Units

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
Table of Current Air Bases

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
Military Air Bases Listing

More Information


'Air Power of the Kingdom of Bulgaria - Parts I/II/III/IV'
by Dimitar Nedialkov
Published by Fark Ood, Sofia, 2001 ISBN: -
* Dual English-Bulgarian text history of the Bulgarian AF 1906-1945.

'Aerospace Encyclopedia of World Air Forces' [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by David Willis
Published by Aerospace Publishing, 1999 ISBN: 1 86184 045 4
* Two-and-a-half page entry on Bulgaria.

'European Air Arms 2002' [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Ian Carroll
Published by Mach III Plus, July 2002 ISBN: 1 898129 73 8
* Brief Order of Battle and current aircraft serials listing.


World Air Power Journal, Volume 36 [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, spring 1999 ISBN: 1 86184 027 6
* Includes very detailed 15-page feature on current Bulgarian military aviation.

Scramble, 237 - February 1999
Published by Dutch Aviation Society

None known.


Bulgarian Military Aviation
(Bulgarian aviation history, aircraft, markings, aces etc. Some good photos.)

Bulgarian Air Force
(Website with details of aircraft types used and excellent photos)

Bulgarian Military Page
(Ground and Air Force information)

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First Created: 5 August 2001 - Last Revised: 10 July 2005
Copyright 2001 John Hayles.    e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk