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12:41 PM, May 17, 2019
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Lockheed Martin F-16 jet (image: Rushabh P Bafna)

Bulgaria is likely to halt negotiations with the US and remove Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 jet from the country’s fighter jet procurement plan, to sway the deal in the favour of Eurofighter Typhoon or Saab’s 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. They have an option to choose from Saab’s Gripen fighters and used Italian Eurofighters apart from US’ F-16 jets.

“Government authorities are not expecting to receive anything for free from the US. But we expect them to offer the aircraft at normal prices. They must offer prices similar to that offered to other countries, for example, Slovakia,” Krasimir Karakachanov, Bulgaria’s defense minister told local broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio.

Last year, the Slovak Cabinet signed a contract worth about $1.78 billion (€1.59 billion) to acquire 14 F-16 Block 70/72 fighters from the United States (each unit costing about $127 million), reports www.proelasi.org.

The minister however did not disclose the value of the offer made by the American side.

In January 2019, Reuters reported that the Parliament of Bulgaria had approved government’s plan to begin negotiations with the US regarding the purchase of eight new F-16V fighter jets for $1.05 billion (1.8 billion levs). Nearly 130 lawmakers voted in favour of the plan of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s government while 84 deputies were against it, accusing the cabinet of breaching the tender rules.

“The US’ bid exceeds the budget by $174 million (300 million levs). Negotiations might last for four months, with the first meeting expected in Brussels next month,” Karakachanov had said.

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