Bulgaria’s government is to ask the National Assembly to ratify a framework agreement between Bulgaria and Lockheed Martin regarding the industrial co-operation linked to the country’s purchase of eight F-16s.
The decision was taken at a scheduled Cabinet meeting on July 17, two days after the Cabinet approved a proposed amendment to the 2019 Budget Act to accommodate the $1.25 billion acquisition of the F-16s, and approved the earlier signing by Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov of four contracts that will enable the deal to go ahead.
The proposed Budget amendments and the ratification of the four contracts are to be debated and voted on in Bulgaria’s National Assembly on July 19.
A Cabinet statement after the July 17 meeting said that the industrial co-operation framework agreement “creates the necessary conditions for the implementation of the updated ‘acquisition of a new combat aircraft’ investment project, and the requirement for implementing industrial co-operation in connection with the implementation of the project.
The statement said that during the talks, Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry expressed the expectation that the two sides of the agreement – the acquisition of defence capabilities, and the contribution to increasing the competitiveness of industry – would be respected.
Emphasis was placed on the intention to build up basic capabilities so as to create opportunities for regional co-operation, the statement said.
Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov said the industrial co-operation agreement would allow Bulgaria to develop the aircraft construction sector.
“Bulgaria will shortly acquire capacity through technicians, engineers as well as opportunities for Bulgarian industry,” Karanikolov said, according to a report by Bulgarian National Radio.
On July 17, the National Assembly’s defence committee was to consider the contracts for the F-16s, while the committee on the budget and finance was to consider the Budget Act 2019 amendments.