Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry has received three proposals to supply the country’s Air Force with fighter jets, the ministry said.
The proposals came from Sweden’s Gripen, offering new multi-role fighter aircraft, from Portugal, offering second-hand US-made F-16s, and Italy, with second-hand Eurofighters.
All those that had been invited on December 9 2016 to submit bids met the deadline of noon on March 13 2017.
The interdepartmental working group on the issue, appointed by order of caretaker Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdzhikov, opened the proposals in the presence of representatives of Italy, Portugal, the US and Sweden.
The working group, chaired by Bulgarian Air Force commander Major-General Tsanko Stoikov, was to begin summarising, analysing and evaluating the responses on March 14.
Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry did not say when the working group would come up with the results of its evaluation of the bids. According to the project adopted in June 2016, this is to take a month.
Given the acquisition involves an inter-state agreement, it will be subject to eventual ratification by Bulgaria’s unicameral parliament, the National Assembly.
The investment project envisages the acquisition of eight multi-purpose military fighter aircraft, to be delivered between 2018 and 2020, followed by eight after 2022. The project budget is 1.5 billion leva, which includes delivery of the aircraft, training of flight and technical staff, armaments, logistics, ground equipment and other related goods and services.
The investment project was approved by the National Assembly on June 2 2016, following a Cabinet decision on April 1.
Bulgaria, which joined Nato in 2004, has been continuing to use ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s, and has seen a succession of controversies regarding the deals to overhaul the engines of these aircraft. A series of governments have failed to conclude a deal to acquire modern Western-made aircraft to bring the Air Force up to Nato standards.