Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted by a large majority on November 4 to approve an investment plan for the purchase of a further eight US-made F-16 fighter jets, in addition to the eight the country previously ordered and paid for.
There were 162 votes in favour, 49 against and 11 abstentions.
Most of the votes in favour came from GERB-UDF, We Continue the Change (WCC), the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Democratic Bulgaria and Bulgaria Ascending.
The votes against were cast by MPs from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and pro-Russian Vuzrazhdane party.
Of those who abstained, 10 were from WCC and one from the BSP.
The second acquisition will cost about 2.6 billion leva, after Bulgaria paid 2.2 billion leva for the first eight F-16s, which are due to begin arriving in 2025. Payment for the second batch will be spread over 10 years.
Earlier this week, caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said that with the second deal, along with the fighter jets, Bulgaria air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons, unlike the first contract which included only air-to-air weapons and not for all the aircraft.
“This is the reason why the price of the second contract seems higher, but in reality it is comparable to the first contract,” Stoyanov said.
It is envisaged that should Bulgaria meet the December 15 deadline for an agreement with the US – a deadline that was extended because of the October early parliamentary elections – delivery of the second batch of F-16s will take place in 2027, enabling the Bulgarian Air Force to have a full squadron of the fighter jets.
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