site.btaGovernment to Seek Parliamentary Approval for Investment Expenditure for Acquisition of Second Batch of F-16 Aircraft
The Bulgarian government Wednesday adopted a decision to ask the future Parliamentary to approve a draft investment expenditure for acquisition of a second batch of jet fighters for the Bulgarian Air Force, said the government press office.
The acquisition of 8 more F-16 Block 70 fighters will enable the effective training of aircrews, enhance the existing capabilities of the fighter aviation and build new owns for the execution of a wide range of tasks in national and collective formats. The implementation of the second phase of the project for a new type of combat aircraft will expand the range of capabilities that will be achieved with the acquisition of the first 8 aircraft and will allow additional capabilities to be achieved.
The completion of one squadron of F-16 Block 70 multi-role fighters will create conditions for meeting NATO requirements for interoperability and technological compatibility and for expanding Bulgaria's contribution to the Alliance's collective defence.
The amount under the contracts for the aircraft is USD 1,296,412,185, said caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov. He stressed that the acquisition of new equipment is extremely important for the Bulgarian Air Force. "Air-to-surface, air-to-air strike capabilities are also included in the project. That is, we will have a full squadron of 16 aircraft. The aircraft are expected to arrive in 2027," he added.
Stoyanov said as he presented on August 10 his team's priorities that they had received an offer for the procurement of the second batch of eight F-16 aircraft and would first seek the government's approval and then Parliament's. "We hope to be able to manage within the validity period of the offer until the end of November, but we have a back-up option until December 15 and have already approached the US about that," he added.
The F-16 are expected to arrive in 2027, which has been confirmed by the US contractor in a document sent to the Defence Ministry in Sofia, the Defence Minister said Wednesday.
He added that Bulgaria's MiG-29 fighters could be used until the end of 2023 if Poland delivers the engines Sofia has requested. "After 2023, there will be no certainty that the national fighter fleet will be capable of protecting the air sovereignty. This makes it necessary to look for opportunities by purchasing another type of aircraft. We have made several representations in this regard, we have also sent letters to the US, Israel, France and Sweden, and my predecessor, Minister Dragomir Zakov sent a letter to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, we have only received a reply from two countries so far - France and Sweden," the Minister said. He added that the final decision is up to the Bulgarian Parliament.