An ad hoc committee of the Bulgarian Parliament set up to investigate the actions of the Gerdzhikov caretaker cabinet in the process towards the acquisition of a new fighter jet was to hold its first meeting on July 5.
The first order of business for the multi-party committee, formed at the initiative of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, was to decide its rules of procedure and to decide which documents to request from the Ministry of Defence.
In the Bulgarian media, the ad hoc body is being referred to as the “Gripen committee” for the multi-role fighter jet ranked top in a report by an interdepartmental expert committee examined by the caretaker government.
For President Roumen Radev and his supporters, the establishment of the committee is a partisan political manoeuvre directed against him, a “tribunal”, in the term of the head of state who previously was commander of the Bulgarian Air Force.
In a war of words, GERB parliamentary leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov has cited media reports to accuse Radev, who constitutionally has no role in government, of interfering in the decision-making process by the Ognyan Gerdzhikov administration that Radev appointed and that was in office from January to May 2017.
In one of its last actions, the Gerdzhikov cabinet examined the expert report on the three bids to supply the fighter to the Bulgarian Air Force. Gripen came out on top, Italy’s offer of Eurofighters ranked second and the Portuguese offer to supply second-hand F-16s was disqualified, apparently for not matching the financial parameters envisaged in the Bulgarian plan to modernise its military.
The ad hoc committee has an envisaged lifespan of two months.
Saab has emphasised that in a possible deal with Bulgaria, it would be flexible about the financial payment terms while guaranteeing [timely] delivery, of the first newly-made fighters within 18 months of the signing of the contract.
Of the three bids, the Gripen is the only one that would see newly-made aircraft delivered to Bulgaria. (end of excerpt)
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