A poll by the Alpha Research agency has found that Bulgarians are sharply divided over the decision, approved by the government and Parliament, to open negotiations with the United States on buying F-16 jet fighters.
Done for the weekly Referendum programme on January 22 of public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, the Alpha Research poll found that 46.7 per cent of those surveyed were in favour while 45.3 per cent were opposed.
For most of those polled, 82.2 per cent the decision was a political one, while for 17 per cent, the debate should be conducted on the basis of expertise.
Asked about the three most important criteria for choosing a new fighter jet for the Bulgarian Air Force, most respondents – 75.1 per cent – stated that it was the price and terms of payment.
The criterion of technical characteristics came in second as most important, with 65.6 per cent.
The least important criteria, according to those polled, were the aircraft’s record in combat (24.1 per cent) and its lifespan (27.8 per cent).
For the overwhelming majority of respondents – 80.5 per cent – it was important the Bulgarian military’s equipment should be compatible with that of its strategic partners, while 18.3 per cent held the opposite opinion.
Bulgaria’s National Assembly approved on January 16 2019 by 130 votes to 84 giving the government a mandate to negotiate with the United States on acquiring F-16 fighter jets.
In December 2018, the US offer was recommended by a political-military committee that examined the bids, choosing this over Sweden’s offer of newly made-to-order Gripens and Italy’s offer of second-hand Eurofighters.
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)