Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry has invited offers from five countries with a view to acquire fighter jets to increase its air defence capabilities until the arrival of the second batch of F-16s from the United States, Bulgarian media reported.
Daily 24 Chasa initially reported on October 6 that a request for offers was sent to Sweden about purchasing or leasing 10 Gripen fighter jets. Bulgaria considered Gripen in its tender to acquire new fighter jets in 2018, but opted for Lockheed Martin F-16 instead.
Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) later quoted the Defence Ministry saying that the ministry has made inquiries about fighter jet acquisition from Sweden, France, Israel and the US.
The ministry has made no formal announcement regarding its correspondence on the topic of fighter jets acquisition.
Speaking from Prague, where he attended the meeting of the European Political Community on October 6, President Roumen Radev said that Bulgaria was “looking for a solution” due to the delays in the deliveries of F-16s, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported.
The first eight F-16s that Bulgaria has already acquired are only expected to begin arriving in 2025. The purchase of another eight jets is yet to be approved, with deliveries not expected before 2027, Bulgaria’s caretaker government said last month.
BNR reported on October 7 that the caretaker cabinet plans to table the $1.3 billion proposal it has approved for the second batch of F-16s to the National Assembly once it is convened following the October 2 election.
Radev said in Prague that a request for offers was also sent to the Netherlands. He did not say how many jets Bulgaria sought to acquire, but noted that the inquiries were made with respective defence ministries regarding second-hand planes, rather than directly with manufacturers, BNT reported.
Bulgaria currently uses Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets, which are set to remain service until the end of 2023, provided Poland delivers the engines that it has agreed to overhaul, caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said last month.
(Photo of the JAS 39 Gripen: Pia Ericson/FMV)
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