A proposal by Bulgarian Defence Minister Anyu Angelov to go ahead with direct negotiations on buying jet fighter aircraft without going to tender failed to get the nod at a December 12 2012 Cabinet meeting, with Angelov saying that this was because the plan had not been co-ordinated with some other ministries.
Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, Bulgarian-language media had suggested that Angelov’s plan was to buy second-hand US F16 fighters, most likely from Portugal, and that this plan had been given impetus at an Oval Office meeting between Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, accompanied by a number of Cabinet ministers including Angelov, and US president Barack Obama on December 3. Angelov held talks with senior Pentagon officials during the US visit.
After the plan did not win Cabinet approval, reports said that the proposal was resisted by Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov who did not want Bulgaria to embark on a scheme that would cost an estimated 700 million leva (about 350 million euro).
Bulgaria has a small and ageing air fleet of Soviet-era aircraft and the Nato member state for years has been presented with a choice of acquiring second-hand F16s or new Gripen multi-purpose military aircraft.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)