The Bulgarian Parliament has given the green light to a robust defense spending package of approximately USD 1.38 billion (EUR 1.3 billion) excluding VAT. The heart of this initiative is the procurement of cutting-edge combat equipment, with a spotlight on the acquisition of 183 Stryker Armoured Fighting Vehicles from the United States. This strategic move is part of Bulgaria’s overarching commitment to enhancing its defense capabilities and maintaining regional security. The authorization for this procurement follows the approval by the U.S. State Department on September 1, 2023, for a Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria. The proposed sale includes a diverse range of Stryker Family of Vehicles, affirming the commitment of both nations to strengthen bilateral defense ties. The initial delivery of the 183 Stryker armoured vehicles is scheduled for the third quarter of 2025, with subsequent tranches expected to be distributed over the following two years at a rate of ten per month. The entire delivery process is anticipated to conclude by the first quarter of 2028, marking a milestone in Bulgaria’s commitment to bolstering its defense capabilities and ensuring regional stability.
- The composition of the procurement is as follows:
- Ninety (90) M1296 Infantry Carrier Vehicles – Dragoon (ICVD)
- Seventeen (17) M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICV)
- Nine (9) M1132 Engineer Squad Vehicles (ESV)
- Thirty-three (33) M1130 Command Vehicles (CV)
- Twenty-four (24) M1133 Medical Evacuation Vehicles (MEV)
- Ten (10) M1135 Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicles (NBCRV)
- Five (5) Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) Light Equipment Transports (LET)
- Five (5) Modular Catastrophic Recovery Systems (MCRS)
- Two (2) M1120A4 HEMTT Load Handling Systems
- Five (5) M984A4 Wrecker HEMTTs
- One hundred seven (107) M240 Coaxial 7.62mm machine guns
The package also includes vital support service equipment, such as M-153A4 Common Remote Operated Weapons Stations (CROWS), Forward Repair Systems (FRS), M2A1 .50 caliber machine guns, M6 smoke grenade launchers, and associated spares. The inclusion of Harris radios, AN/VAS-5 Driver’s Vision Enhancer (DVE), DVE-Wide, communications equipment, RS6 (LW30) Remote Weapon Systems, TACFLIR 280 HDEP systems, Ranger R20SS Radar, ROVER6Si transceivers, and spare parts further demonstrates the comprehensive nature of the procurement.
The Stryker is a family of eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicles derived from the Canadian LAV III. Stryker vehicles are produced by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS-C) for the United States Army in a plant in London, Ontario. It has four-wheel drive (8×4) and can be switched to all-wheel drive (8×8). The Stryker was conceived as a family of vehicles forming the backbone of a new medium-weight brigade combat team (BCT) that was to strike a balance between heavy armor and infantry. The service launched the Interim Armored Vehicle competition, and in 2000, the service selected the LAV III proposed by GDLS and General Motors Defense. The service named this family of vehicles the “Stryker”. Ten variants of the Stryker were initially conceived, some of which have been upgraded with v-hulls.
The Stryker chassis’ modular design supports a wide range of variants. The main chassis is the Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV). The M1296 Dragoon is an upgraded version of the M1126 Stryker armed with 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster II cannons following a lethality upgrade request to increase lethality against other light armor vehicles while preserving its wheeled mobility advantages. The M1296 Stryker Dragoon is a very strong contender for Bulgaria’s New IFV Program to Replace the BMP-1 In the Bulgarian Land Forces. The M1132 Engineer Squad Vehicle (ESV) is the combat engineering variant of the Stryker wheeled armored fighting vehicle. It is issued to combat engineer squads in the US Army Stryker brigade combat teams. The M1130 Commander Vehicle (CV) is used within the brigade to provide means to receive information, analyze and transmit data, and control forces carrying out combat missions. The Medical Evacuation Vehicle (MEV) is assigned from the Battalion Aid Station for Battalion-sized units, and dedicated to each of the company-sized elements of the unit and provide treatment for serious injury and advanced trauma cases. The M1135 Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle (NBCRV) provides nuclear, biological and chemical detection and surveillance for battlefield hazard visualization.