The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense terminated a contract for the upgrading of attack and assault helicopters awarded to Elbit Systems in 2004. Elbit Systems won the contract to modernize 12 Russian-built Mi-24 attack helicopters and six Mi-17 transport helicopters offering €57 million (about US$74 million) beating competition from BAE Systems, Sagem and IAI.
The program faced serious obstacles immediately after the selection was announced as the Russian manufacturers of the helicopters and engines protested that the program withheld permit to authorize the work and refused to support their engines. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense reluctantly pursued with the program under a Bulgarian court order.
The issue was resolved during recent meetings between Bulgarian Minister of Defence Vesselin Bliznakov and Elbit chief executive Josef Ackerman. Bliznakov and Ackerman agreed that the deal was scuppered by circumstances of international dimensions beyond their control. According to Elbit Systems, the cancellation discussions with the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense have been based on appropriate compensation to Elbit. The contract will most probably go to the local defense firm Terem.