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08:17 AM, August 13, 2019
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Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter (image: Rushabh P Bafna)

The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence on August 8 reportedly transferred $1.2 billion (2.1 billion Levs) to the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DCSA) for 8 Lockheed F-16 Block 70 fighters and related equipment, Bulgarian media reported, citing the Defence Ministry.

"With this step, the Bulgarian side has fulfilled its commitment under the contracts concluded under the project for the acquisition of a new type of combat aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force", the ministry reportedly stated.

Last month, the government gave the nod to the long-pending deal for the procurement of 8 F-16 jets (6 single-seat and 2 two-seat fighters) to replace the ageing fleet of MiG-29 jets of the Bulgarian Air Force. The aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2023.

The agreement 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) to Sofia.

On July 23, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev vetoed the F-16 deal. "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.

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