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.