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Bulgarian, Belgian Chiefs of Defence Discuss Navy Cooperation

Bulgaria’s Chief of Defence Admiral Emil Eftimov visited Belgium at the invitation of his counterpart Admiral Michel Hofman, the Bulgarian Defence Ministry said on Friday.
The guest described remote surface vessels and remotely piloted systems as the future in the pursuit of cooperation between the two countries’ navies.
The sides discussed opportunities for military-technological and industrial cooperation between Bulgaria and Belgium for the development of their defence capabilities. The focus was on the maritime domain, considering the support the Belgian Navy has provided to Bulgaria so far. Admiral Eftimov was briefed on site on the functions, tasks, and capabilities provided by the NATO Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence in Ostend.
The Tripartite-class minehunters and the options to modernize them were presented to Eftimov, along with a new generation of minesweepers capable of remotely detecting and destroying sea mines. The Bulgarian Chief of Defence toured government agencies and institutions contributing to Belgium’s security and defence. He also conferred with leading manufacturers of high-tech products and robot systems for maritime navigation and aviation. “The new global reality calls for heavier investment in defence and a more comprehensive and flexible approach to joint financing of Allied deterrence and defence capabilities,” Eftimov said during the talks with his hosts.
He presented the challenges facing the armed forces of the NATO Eastern Flank countries as a result of the war in Ukraine and the ensuing tasks to build strategic infrastructure for the reception, accommodation, and subsequent movement of Allied troops and the provision of host nation support.
It was agreed that the lessons learnt from the military operations should be used in the subsequent development of doctrines and the evolution of military capabilities with the extensive deployment of drones and digital technologies. Eftimov stressed that the ambitious plans set out in the Programme for the Development of the Defence Capabilities of the Bulgarian Armed Forces by 2032 envisage defence spending of over 2% of GDP, which is a target that Bulgaria has already met.
At the end of his visit, Bulgaria’s Chief of Defence toured a Castor-class patrol vessel which has been in service with the Belgian Navy since 2014.