The Parliament of Bulgaria has approved government’s plan to begin negotiations with the United States (US) regarding the purchase of eight new F-16V fighter jets in a deal worth 1.8 billion levs ($1.05 billion).
“The US Embassy welcomes the decision today by Bulgaria’s National Assembly to initiate negotiations to acquire new F-16 Block 70 aircraft from Lockheed Martin," reuters quoted the US Embassy in Sofia as saying Wednesday.
The new jets will replace Bulgaria’s aging MiG-29 fighters.
Nearly 130 lawmakers voted in favor of the plan of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s government while 84 deputies were against it, accusing the cabinet of breaching the tender rules.
Bulgaria had an option to choose from Saab’s Gripen fighters and used Italian Eurofighters apart from Lockheed Martin's F-16V fighter jets.
The defense ministry had previously said that the US does not need additional licenses and agreements to supply the war plans with the necessary weaponry and licenses, unlike the offers from Sweden and Italy.
“The US’ bid exceeds the budget by 300 million levs ($174 million). Negotiations might last for four months, with the first meeting expected in Brussels next month,” Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov was quoted as saying by the news agency.
“From now on there are many issues that we need to clarify - delivery dates, service... spare parts delivery,” the minister added.
Lockheed Martin has won $996 million to upgrade 84 F-16 multirole fighter aircraft to the V-configuration. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas; and Athens, Greece, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2027
Italy and Leonardo submitted their offer to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence on October in response to the recent Request for Proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of eight fighter aircraft to replace their ageing Mig fleet. The Italian offer is based on the supply to the Bulgarian Air Force of used Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoons from the Italian Air Force and includes also the option for the delivery of newly built aircraft as requested by Bulgaria
The Swedish Defence Material Administration has offered eight new fully NATO-interoperable Gripen C/D fighter aircraft as part of the proposal to equip the Bulgarian Air Force. The Swedish offer consists of eight new NATO interoperable Gripen aircraft with the latest MS20 configuration, which can be delivered to the Bulgarian Air Force within a short time period, with the first aircraft delivered within 24 months of contract signature
Bulgaria has signed a $1.26 billion contract with the United States for 8 Lockheed Martin F-16 combat aircraft, delivery of which will be completed by 2023, the country's defense ministry announced Wednesday
Bulgaria is likely to halt negotiations with the US and remove Lockheed Martins F-16 Block 70 jet from the countrys fighter jet procurement plan, to sway the deal in the favour of Eurofighter Typhoon or Saabs Gripen, owing to the high price of the American jet. The Bulgarian Air Force wants to acquire 8 fighters to replace its ageing Russian Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters with a western jet
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