A day after Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved a deal with the US to buy eight F-16 fighter jets for $1.25 billion, paying for them in one go, the country’s Deputy Defence Minister said that Bulgaria intended buying a further eight, paying in instalments.
Deputy Defence Minister Atanas Zapryanov, head of the Bulgarian negotiating team on the F-16 acquisition, made the statement in a television interview on July 11.
The second eight would be bought with deferred payments because Bulgaria would already have a credit record, he said.
This batch would not cost a further two billion leva because most of the equipment would be delivered at the first stage, he said. Zapryanov said that it was too early to say what the price of the second batch of aircraft would be.
He said that the first batch, which includes six one-seater and two two-seater F-16s, would all be delivered by 2023.
The deal approved by Bulgaria’s Cabinet on July 10 requires the approval of the National Assembly.
Should Parliament’s approval be granted, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov will proceed with the signing of four contracts, covering the delivery of eight new aircraft and the training of pilots and ground staff.
He rejected any suggestion – as made by President Roumen Radev – that the F-16s that Bulgaria is to buy would have inadequate capabilities.
There was no reason to say that the current package was fundamentally different from the one at the beginning of negotiations, Zapryanov said.