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Bulgaria Military - 2024


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Military and security forces

Bulgarian Armed Forces (aka Bulgarian Army): Land Forces, Air Force, Navy

Ministry of Interior: General Directorate National Police (GDNP), General Directorate Border Police (GDBP), General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDCOC), Fire Safety and Civil Protection General Directorate, Special Unit for Combating Terrorism (SOBT) (2024)

note: the GDMP includes the Gendarmerie, a special police force with military status deployed to secure important facilities, buildings and infrastructure, to respond to riots, and to counter militant threats

Military expenditures

2.1% of GDP (2024 est.)
1.9% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.6% of GDP (2022)
1.6% of GDP (2021)
1.6% of GDP (2020)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 30,000 active-duty personnel (19,000 Army; 4,000 Navy; 7,000 Air Force) (2023)

note: in 2021, Bulgaria released a 10-year defense plan which called for an active military strength of 43,000

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory consists primarily of Soviet-era equipment, although in recent years Bulgaria has procured limited amounts of more modern weapons systems from some Western countries (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-40 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription ended in 2007; service obligation 6-9 months (2023)

note 1: in 2021, women comprised about 17% of the Bulgarian military's full-time personnel

note 2: in 2020, Bulgaria announced a program to allow every citizen up to the age of 40 to join the armed forces for 6 months of military service in the voluntary reserve

Military - note

the Bulgarian military is responsible for guaranteeing Bulgaria’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, providing support to international peace and security missions, and contributing to national security in peacetime, including such missions as responding to disasters or assisting with border security; the military trains regularly including in multinational exercises with regional partners and with NATO since Bulgaria joined the organization in 2004; it also participates in overseas peacekeeping and other security missions under the EU, NATO, and the UN; in 2022, Bulgaria established and began leading a NATO multinational battlegroup as part of an effort to boost NATO defenses in Eastern Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; in 2021, Bulgaria approved a 10-year defense development program, which included calls for equipment upgrades and procurements, boosts in manpower, organizational reforms, and greater focus on such areas as cyber defense, communications, logistics support, and research and development

the Bulgarian military has participated in several significant conflicts since its establishment in 1878, including the Serbo-Bulgarian War (1885), the First Balkan War (1912-13), the Second Balkan War (1913), World War I (1915-1918), and World War II (1941-45); during the Cold War it was one of the Warsaw Pact’s largest militaries with over 150,000 personnel, eight ground combat divisions, and more than 200 Soviet-made combat aircraft; the principal combat units of the modern-day Land Forces are two mechanized infantry brigades and regiments of artillery and mountain infantry, while the Air Force has a mix of about 20 US-made and Soviet-era fighter aircraft; it is in the midst of retiring the Soviet fighters and replacing them with additional US-made aircraft; NATO partners provide assistance with protecting Bulgaria’s airspace; the Navy has four frigates, including one Soviet-era and three secondhand vessels acquired from Belgium, plus three Soviet-era corvettes; Bulgaria retired the last of its Soviet-era submarines in 2011; the military also has a joint special operations command, a communications, information support, and cyber defense command, and a joint forces command, which was established in 2021 to coordinate the operations of the services (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Bulgaria on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Bulgaria 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Bulgaria 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.