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.
The package includes the value of the eight aircraft with a full complement of air-to-air and air-to-surface armament, all additional systems for the aircraft as well as future upgrades and newly introduced weapon systems, Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry said.
This is the maximum financial framework for the project to acquire a new type of multipurpose fighter for Bulgaria. There is a two-week term in which the US government will provide the Bulgarian side with a draft contract in which the expected cost of acquiring the eight aircraft with a package of necessary combat capabilities will be within $1.2 billion.
On expiration of the two-week term and receipt of the draft contract, the negotiation process will continue, Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry said.
The ministry said that it was pleased to note the fact that the US Congress had decided in a short time to export to Bulgaria the high-tech platform and its systems.
Initially, the Bulgarian Parliament authorized the price of 8 new multipurpose fighters to not exceed 1.8 billion leva. Later, MPs adopted an additional decision that the international contract to acquire a new type of combat aircraft could depart from the stated price.
In May 2019, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov told Bulgarian National Radio that some of the proposals in terms of price were not satisfactory. He said that it was possible that negotiations might be sought with other participants in the procedure, a comment that was seen as hinting that if Bulgaria did not get the price deal it wanted for the F-16s, it could opt for Swedish Gripens.
In April, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that Bulgaria wants “the lowest price” and that it is all a matter of negotiation.