Bulgaria is eyeing to buy nine surplus F-16 fighter jets modernised by Portugal to replace its ageing fleet of MiG-29s.
“Bulgaria has requested information from Portugal about the possible modernisation of nine surplus Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters,” IHS Janes reported on Friday quoting a spokesperson for Portugal’s defence ministry as saying, a day after Bulgaria’s parliament gave the green light to the purchase of new combat aircraft.
Bulgaria’s northern neighbour Romania, which has bought 12 F-16s from Portugal, has requested Portugal to sell and modernise a further 12 F-16s for the Romanian Air Force, the report said.
Portugal will modernise the F-16s in any potential deal with Romania or Bulgaria. The combat aircraft will be made available by the U.S. through its Excess Defense Articles (EDA) programme, or they will come from allied nations replacing their F-16s with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Under a defence procurement investment plan approved by the government in March, the acquisition of new combat aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force will be made in two stages. A contract for acquiring eight aircraft from 2018 to 2021 will be signed by the end of 2016. Another eight aircraft are to be acquired between 2022 and 2023.