Bulgarian Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said on October 2 that it was important for him to choose the best option for new fighters for the Air Force on the basis of the financial capacity to do so.
Karakachanov was speaking in a television interview the day after the Defence Ministry announced that it had received offers, in response to a call for bids, from the US to supply F-18s or F-16s, from Sweden for Gripens and from Italy for Eurofighters.
He told bTV that at the moment there was no “pressure” from outside regarding the choice. “Whether there will be pressure, we will see.”
The choice would be based on the findings of two working groups and on political will, Karakachanov said.
Of the offers received, the US is offering new F-18s and F-16s, Sweden’s Gripens also would be newly-made to order, while Italy’s offer is for second-hand aircraft.
A commission headed by Bulgarian Air Force commander Major-General Tsanko Stoikov will by October 19 evaluate the bids. Deputy Defence Minister Atanas Zapryanov said that during this time, further inquiries may be put to the countries that bid.
This process will be followed by an assessment by a political-military committee, which will examine the evaluation by the first committee. This committee will be made up of representatives of various ministries, including finance, under the leadership of the Defence Ministry.
Based on the findings, Karakachanov will recommend to the government with which bidder negotiations should start.
Zapryanov said that if more than one offer meets the technical requirements, a political decision would be made.
Karakachanov said in the television interview that the agreement on the supply of the fighter jets would be between states, not between Bulgaria and a private company, to eliminate the risk of corruption.
Asked about the demands by workers in Bulgaria for the country to overhaul its Russian-made Su-25 fighter-bombers at the Avionams plant in the country, he questioned the financial viability of this. “And I’d like to take Naomi Campbell to dinner, but that doesn’t mean I can pay the bill.”