Fighter jet acquisition: Bulgarian Defence Minister outlines options

There are three main components in considering Bulgaria’s choice of a new fighter jet – price, its capabilities and the value over the life cycle, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said in a television interview.

Karakachanov spelt out three hypotheses about what could happen.

One was to recommend one offer. Another hypothesis was, where offers exceeded the spending agreed by the National Assembly, to decide whether to increase the spending. The third was for Parliament to tell the government to move to direct negotations, he said.

Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry received four offers in reply to its request for proposals to supply fighter jets to the Bulgarian Air Force, the deadline for which was October 1.

Two offers came from the United States, for new F-16s and new F-18s, while Sweden once again put forward its offer for new Gripen jets. Italy’s offer was for used Eurofighters.

Bulgaria had invited bids from seven countries in July after Parliament approved, in June 2018, a 3.5 billion leva military modernisation project, which included 1.8 billion leva for the fighter jets, to be acquired in two stages of eight each.

The deadline for the US, Sweden and Italy to improve their bids was December 14.

Sweden’s Gripen announced that day that it was now offering 10 instead of eight fighters. The same day, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that he had spoken to Air Force pilots and saw the F-16 as the best offer, though he added he did not want to interfere in the selection process.

Two committees are dealing with the selection, one a military-technical one, the other a political one.

Karakachanov said that an interdepartment group, with him and the Economy Minister, should prepare a report and say which offer they recommended. “We describe all the offers and we say which offer meets all the criteria,” he said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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