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02:57 PM, July 24, 2019
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Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 fighter

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev vetoed the $1.26 billion (2.1 billion Lev) deal to procure 8 F-16 Block 70 fighters from United States (US) manufacturer Lockheed Martin on Tuesday.

"Because of the shortened legislative procedure, a number of important issues such as prices, warranties, delivery times, penalties, indemnities, and so on, have remained unclear,” Radev was quoted as saying by BulgarianMilitary.com.

"The commitment of the Republic of Bulgaria to obligations, for years to come, without a national consensus and conviction in the mutually acceptable conditions of the treaty, is extremely worrying,” the president added.

The Balkan country planned to acquire Saab's Gripen fighter jets in 2017. But the deal did not see the light of the day as it was scrapped soon after.

Radev, who has also served as the air force commander previously has stated that the country should strike a deal with the company that offers "a full package of equipment, accompanying equipment and personnel training."

The ruling center-right GERB party defended the contracts and expressed its readiness for another vote at a parliamentary session on Friday. Parliament could overrule Radev’s veto with a vote of at least 121 votes in the 240-seat assembly.

On 19 July, the Bulgarian parliament approved the purchase of the F-16 jets by increasing the budget deficit to 2.1% of GDP besides axing several defense procurement projects. The current deal with Lockheed Martin includes supply of munitions for the jets, Sidewinder AIM 9Х Block II missiles, and a multifunctional information distribution system joint tactical radio system (MIDS JTRS).

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