Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted by a large majority on November 25 to ratify contracts with the United States to acquire eight new F-16 fighter jets, along with ammunition, equipment, spare parts, initial maintenance and training for the Bulgarian Air Force, as well as a joint tactical radio system and related equipment.
The estimated investment cost is $1.3 billion, to be paid over 10 years.
The ratification was supported by GERB, most MPs from We Continue the Change, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Democratic Bulgaria and Stefan Yanev’s Bulgaria Ascending, and opposed by pro-Russian party Vuzrazhdane and the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
The vote, at second reading, was 151 in favour, 42 against and eight abstentions, which came from WCC MPs.
The contracts were signed on November 9 by caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov. At the request of the US, the contracts will remain confidential and will not be published in the State Gazette because they contain sensitive information.
The investment cost to acquire eight more F-16s, in addition to the eight Bulgaria already has paid for, was approved by the National Assembly on November 4.
On November 23, the National Assembly voted to ratify two agreements related to the first eight F-16s.
The agreements make it possible for some of the money paid by Bulgaria to be transferred to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and generate income for Bulgaria.
Delays in ratifying the agreements by previous parliaments have meant losses for the state, which parliamentary defence committee head Hristo Gadzhev said had been estimated at close to 20 million leva.
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