TechBulgaria set to send armored vehicles to the front

Bulgaria set to send armored vehicles to the front

Armored transporter BTR-60 in a parade in Bulgaria.
Armored transporter BTR-60 in a parade in Bulgaria.
Images source: © Kiril Kapustin

2:58 PM EST, December 9, 2023

The Bulgarian parliament has overruled a veto by President Rumen Radev, approving the transfer of 100 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, complete with weapons and spare parts. Additionally, preparations are being made to send anti-aircraft missiles and ammunition to Ukraine. We'll be taking a detailed look at the armaments the Ukrainian forces can expect in their battle against Russian aggression.

The initial vote in the Bulgarian parliament on sending 100 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine occurred a few weeks ago. Although the majority of MPs supported the transfer, President Radev opposed it. In a subsequent vote of the lawmakers, 161 voted against the presidential veto, while 55 supported it.

Armored carriers from Bulgaria for Ukraine

President Radev cited potential use within Bulgaria as a reason for his veto, arguing that the armored personnel carriers could serve functions like border protection or aid provision during natural disasters and accidents. However, the Bulgarian defense and internal affairs departments highlighted that these vehicles have been out of use for over 30 years, with no suggestion that they were needed anywhere else.

The vehicles in question are the BTR-60 armored personnel carriers, which Bulgaria procured towards the end of the 20th century. Each vehicle is nearly 25 feet long and weighs over 11 tons. They feature an 8x8 drive, can reach speeds of about 50 mph on solid ground, and can overcome obstacles up to 1.3 feet tall and bodies of water. These BTR-60s can accommodate up to 16 people, including the crew, and are equipped with 7.62 mm and 14.5 mm machine guns. The strength and placement of the steel armor depend on the production year and model of the vehicle. This design, although less effective by modern standards, can still be utilized by Ukrainians for tasks such as transporting soldiers and equipment to comparatively safer areas away from the primary frontline.

Defective anti-aircraft missiles

Following the decisions in the Bulgarian parliament, Ukraine is set to receive further assistance, including ammunition for 5.56x45 mm caliber firearms and 5B55P type anti-aircraft missiles, which are compatible with Soviet-era S-300 anti-aircraft systems. Most of these missiles will be defective, as the Bulgarian arms industry lacks the capacity to repair them.

"Bulgaria cannot repair these types of missiles, but Ukraine can," said Bulgarian Defense Minister Todor Tagarev.

The delivery of 100 armored personnel carriers marks the first major aid in the form of heavy military equipment from Sofia to Kyiv. Previously, Bulgaria provided aid mainly in the form of ammunition. During the initial months of the conflict, supplies from Bulgaria may have accounted for up to a third of Ukraine's needs.

Related content