Bulgarian President: F-16 deal should not compromise fighter’s capabilities

Bulgarian head of state President Roumen Radev said that he expects the government, in its negotiations with the US on the acquisition of new F-16 fighter jets, to ensure that the aircraft’s combat capabilities will not be cut back for the sake of lowering the price.

Radev was speaking on June 19, two days after the US embassy in Sofia formally handed Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defence its proposed offer for the sale of the F-16s and related equipment. Details of the offer have not yet been disclosed.

Radev, a skilled fighter pilot who headed the Bulgarian Air Force before being elected President and Commander-in-Chief, said that he was awaiting the specific parameters of the US proposal.

“You know that the government has repeatedly declared that it will achieve a reasonable price close to that determined by the National Assembly, that it will have a deferred payment, offset and industrial co-operation, high combat capabilities,” Radev said, reiterating that it is often missed or not fully understood that it is not the aircraft itself that is the most important, but the content of the overall offer. That includes both the aircraft and its equipment, armaments, ground equipment and personnel training.

“Every move down and trimming back this package already leads to the impossibility of achieving the airplane’s operational capabilities, so I expect the government to ensure that there is no cut in the combat capabilities, and Bulgarian taxpayers will not give their money in vain,” Radev said.

He said that several meetings of the Consultative Council on National Security had made decisions that armed forces modernisation projects should run together, but these decisions were violated because money was limited.

“We cannot develop only one kind of the armed forces,” Radev said. He called for any modernisation project to benefit not only the Bulgarian armed forces, but also society as a whole.

“This means offset programmes, strong industrial co-operation, high technology co-operation,” he said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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