Bulgaria’s government to buy 8 new F-16s from US

U.S. & World
April 05 2021 05:30 pm
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SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s government gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the purchase of eight new F-16 fighters in a bid to replace its aging Soviet-built jets and bring its air force in line with NATO standards.

The decision for the biggest military purchase in post-Communist Bulgaria still needs parliamentary approval, but it is expected to get that easily given that the ruling coalition has a majority.

Once that happens, the defense minister will sign the contract for the purchase of eight multi-role F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft with the producer, Lockheed Martin.

Deputy defense minister Atanas Zapryanov told reporters that the $1.25 billion deal includes the aircraft, ammunition, equipment and pilot training, and that there is an option for the U.S. Congress to contribute $60 million. He said that six single-seat and two two-seat F-16s would be delivered by 2023.

U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin won the government-sponsored tender, outbidding Swedish SAAB Gripen fighters and second-hand Italian Eurofighter Typhoons.

Bulgaria, which joined NATO in 2004, has ever since sought to update its air fleet of Soviet-made Mig-29 jets, but has repeatedly been forced to postpone the decision due to financial problems.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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