Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry says that requests for proposals are to be sent to four companies to bid to supply 150 new combat vehicles for the army.
The companies are Artec GmbH of Germany, Patria of Finland, Nexter Group of France and General Dynamics Land System (MOWAG) of Switzerland.
The ministry announcement came after Bulgaria’s Parliament approved a $1.25 billion deal to buy eight Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets from the United States.
The increased price tag for the F-16s, higher than the ceiling first approved by Parliament, means that no payments on Bulgaria’s other two major military modernisation projects – the combat vehicles and two new naval patrol vessels – will be made this year.
Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, however, insisted to Parliament that all three modernisation projects would be completed within the term of the current government, while the same day Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that the order for the naval vessels would go ahead.
Bids to supply the patrol vessels were opened months ago, but publicly nothing has been heard since then.
As to the combat vehicles, the Defence Ministry said an interdepartmental task force on the choice should finish its work by December 20 2019 at the latest.
The projects envisages the Bulgarian army getting 150 vehicles, along with special equipment and training, for three battalion groups. The estimated value of the contract is 1.464 billion leva with VAT.
A complication for the combat vehicles project has been the requirement that at least part of the vehicles should be manufactured in Bulgaria, with the participation of Bulgarian companies. There are also said to be differences of opinion over the technical requirements for the vehicles.