Bulgaria’s Defence Minister: $1 billion would be ‘reasonable price’ to buy F-16s

About two billion leva “just over $1 billion, roughly speaking” would be a reasonable price for Bulgaria to pay to acquire US-made F-16 fighter jets, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said on June 4.

Karakachanov was speaking after the announcement that the United States State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the government of Bulgaria of F-16C/D Block 70/72 aircraft with support for an estimated cost of $1.673 billion, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a notice on its website on June 3.]

The agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on May 30 2019, the statement said.

Karakachanov said that the $1.6 billion for acquisition of the eight F-16 fighter jets was “only a framework”.

“This is the framework that Congress gives as the maximum that allows the government to make a deal at a maximum of such a price,” Karakachanov said.

“This in no way means that the value of the planes, if we buy them, will be $1.673 billion.This is the ceiling allowed by Congress. I will give the example of Slovakia. The Congress voted for Slovakia $2.8 billion, and the Slovaks signed a contract of $1.8 billion,” he said.

Karakachanov said that Bulgaria’s National Assembly had voted a framework of 1.8 billion leva and had allowed for some deviation from this.

“About two billion leva is, in my opinion, the maximum of the reasonable price. Just over a billion dollars, roughly speaking. In no way will it be at the expense of the aircraft’s capabilities,” he said.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence announced that there is currently a two-week term in which the government in Washington will provide a draft contract. The expected cost of acquiring the aircraft, with a package of necessary combat capabilities, will be within $1.2 billion, according to the Defence Ministry.

The ministry said that if the cost was too high, this would jeopardise the funding of Navy and Army acquisition projects, a reference to plans to get two naval patrol vessels and 150 armoured infantry vehicles. It indicated that talks with other participants in the fighter jet acquisition procedure were possible.

An interdepartmental committee earlier recommended Bulgaria opt for the F-16s, leaving the bid by Sweden to supply Gripen multi-role fighter jets in second place.



The Sofia Globe staff

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