Bulgaria signs modernization deal with Elbit

Bulgaria on Friday signed a long-disputed deal with Israel's Elbit Systems for modernizing the Balkan country's helicopter fleet, the Defense Ministry announced. The €57 million (US$67 million) deal to upgrade the Bulgarian military's Russian-made helicopters was signed by Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov and Elbit's Vice President Menahem Bargev. In December 2004, the team led by Elbit Systems and the US-based Lockheed Martin Corp. won the Bulgarian order for repairing and upgrading 12 Mi-24 combat helicopters and six Mi-17 transport helicopters.