PM Borissov: Bulgaria looking into buying 8 more F-16s

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, whose country is acquiring eight F-16 fighter jets, told representatives of manufacturer Lockheed Martin at a September 29 meeting in Sofia that the government plans to develop its strategic partnership with the company in the long run.

This was shown by the correspondence sent by Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry regarding the possibility of acquiring eight further F-16 Block 70 fighter jets, as well as other high-tech equipment linked to the modernisation of Bulgaria’s armed forces, he said.

A Bulgarian government media statement quoted Borissov as saying that the acquisition of the F-16 Block 70 aircraft was not just a purchase, but an expression of Bulgaria’s desire for irreversible modernisation of its armed forces in order to achieve real interoperability with other Nato member states.

The focus of the meeting was long-term co-operation, being undertaken thanks to the Industrial Partnership Programme between Bulgaria and the United States, the statement said.

In addition to the purely military dimensions of the signed contracts, the partnership envisages the creation of industrial capacity for maintenance and development of capabilities in the future, the statement said.

“So we consider the framework agreement signed with Lockheed Martin a very useful tool for the implementation of industrial co-operation under the F-16 Block 70, which will contribute to long-term economic development and competitiveness of our country in this area,” Borissov said.

He said that thanks to the agreements, the country’s unique know-how would be put into use by Bulgarian industry working in the areas of security and defence.

Borissov said that that the Bulgarian government had provided 300 million leva funding for the preparation of the airfield infrastructure for the deployment and maintenance of F-16 Block 70 aircraft.

The first 100 million leva was allocated from the budget of the Ministry of Defence in August this year, and the planned infrastructure will be used by fighter jets currently in use by Bulgaria’s Air Force.

The statement said that during the meeting, it was pointed out that the Covid-19 epidemic situation in recent months had affected the progress of the joint activities of the defence and economy ministries and Lockheed Martin.

However, the two Bulgarian ministries are currently preparing to set up a joint working group to plan the effective implementation of activities under the framework agreement, the statement said.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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