Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s coalition Cabinet decided on January 9 to ask the National Assembly to approve the opening of negotiations with the United States on the acquisition of F-16 fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force.
Earlier, on December 21, a military and political committee recommended the F-16 option, over the bids by Sweden to supply new made-to-order Gripens, and an offer from Italy of second-hand Eurofighters.
The committee said that its decision was based on the US having offered to deliver a complete package, of fighter aircraft with armaments and equipment fitted, unlike the other two offers.
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said that the decision was about starting negotiations, not about a purchase.
The government also wants the National Assembly to agree to deviating from the financial parameters that Parliament previously approved, of 1.8 billion leva for the fighter jet acquisition.
The US offer exceeds the approved price parameters but Washington has indicated it may be willing to amend its offer.
“The United States remains committed to working with the Bulgarian government to tailor the final scope of its potential F-16 to its budget and operational requirements, while still offering superior capabilities,” the White House said in a statement on the eve of the Bulgarian Cabinet’s January 9 meeting. (end of excerpt)
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