Bulgaria’s caretaker government approves $1.3B project to buy 8 more F-16s

Bulgaria’s caretaker government approved on September 21 a project worth close to $.13 billion to purchase eight more US-made F-16 fighter aircraft, caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said.

This was one of 13 investment projects, adding up to a total of 6.6 billion leva, approved by the caretaker government.

However, for the projects to go ahead, the National Assembly must vote its approval, given that the law requires that spending of more than 100 million leva may proceed only with parliamentary consent.

Pending Bulgaria’s October 2 2022 early parliamentary elections, the country has no sitting Parliament.

Stoyanov said that the further eight F-16s could be delivered in 2027.

Bulgaria already has purchased eight F-16s. Production of these is underway but the first deliveries have been postponed to 2025.

“It is important to acquire new equipment for the Bulgarian Air Force in the context of what we have,” Stoyanov said.

“At the moment we have old Soviet equipment that we cannot maintain because of what is happening with Russia. We need a fully organised squadron with included capabilities for striking – air-to-surface and air-to-air. The expectations are that they (the F-16s) will arrive in 2027,” he said.

Stoyanov said that the available Bulgarian MiG-29 fighter jets would continue to be in service until the end of 2023, and only on the condition that Poland delivers the engines that it has agreed to overhaul.

“After 2023, there is no certainty to ensure air sovereignty. This necessitates looking for opportunities to purchase a lease of another type of aircraft, for which we have sent inquiries to various countries and are awaiting specific offers,” he said.

An offer has been received from France, talks have been held with Sweden, and a response from the US and Israel is awaited, Stoyanov said.

He said that decisions by the caretaker government covered 13 out of 188 capabilities that it had been established that the Bulgarian military should have “as we have taken into account the economic situation”.

It would be a mistake to delay investments in the military, he said.

It was not clear in what time horizon the investments will be made and for which budget years the relevant costs are planned.

Among the priorities to be funded is the purchase of an infantry combat vehicle and the provision of 3D radars.

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