The official proposal by the United States to sell F-16 fighter jets to Bulgaria is expected to arrive within a week, at which time the government will comment on it, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said in a television interview on June 11.
“Our ambition is clear – to buy the best aircraft for our fighter aviation,” Karakachanov said.
In early 2019, Bulgaria’s legislature mandated the government to negotiate with the US on the purchase of F-16s, a choice recommended by an interdepartmental committee over the next-ranked offer from Sweden of Gripen multi-role fighters, which at an earlier stage of the stop-start process had led the race.
“We are not buying aircraft just to have aircraft, we are not buying them just to protect the air space, we are not buying them just to hold an airshow, we are buying them, God forbid, to be able to use them to take part in combat operations,” he said.
Karakachanov said that there were three big issues about the deal.
The first is the price, as well as the equipment and armament of the planes. That is what the Ministry of Defence is responsible for. The second is industrial co-operation, for which the Ministry of Economy is responsible. The third is the methods and terms of payment, about which the Ministry of Finance conducts the talks.
“There is a possibility that the amount will be deposited on an account from which we will even collect annual interest. It will be drawn at every stage of the deal. But these are things that, I hope, my colleague, (Finance) Minister Goranov handle in the best way,” Karakachanov said.
Goranov, speaking on June 7, told Bulgaria’s Parliament that the country could afford to pay for new F-16 fighters all at once.
“The sum is serious, but we can afford it,” Goranov said, Bulgarian National Radio reported.
“$1.15 billion is a lot of money, but since this is a priority and we are members of Nato, probably this should be done. We are discussing the deadlines with the US side and we would be aware by the autumn,” he said.