Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov has submitted to the government a report on the planned acquisition of new fighter jets, armoured vehicles and naval patrol vessels, envisaging deferred payments up to 2029 to lessen the impact on the national budget.
This is according to Bulgarian media reports on June 22. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov earlier called for stretching out payments for the military modernisation projects past the year 2020.
The reports said that for eight multi-role jet fighters, the envisaged budget was 1.5 billion leva.
From the report to the government, it emerges that the military working group on the jet fighter acquisition ranked Sweden’s Gripen top and the Italian offer of Eurofighters second – in contrast to earlier reports that had Gripen in first place and Portugal’s offer of second-hand F-16s second.
A report by bTV said that Portugal’s F-16 bid had not been ranked because of a discrepancy in its price proposal, set out in its response to Bulgaria’s “request for proposal” documents issued in 2016.
Swedish company Saab has already said that it was hoping for negotiations to begin by the end of the summer. There will also be negotiations with the Italians about the Eurofighters.
The construction of two patrol vessels for Bulgaria’s navy is estimated to have a price tag of 820 million leva.
Bulgaria’s previous parliament voted on June 2, 2016 on the two investment projects – for the Air Force and the Navy – but did not give the green light for the acquisition of armoured vehicles for Bulgaria’s infantry.
According to bTV, Karakachanov’s report sets the acquisition of 198 armoured vehicles at a cost of 1.22 billion leva, with repayments of 100 million leva a year to 2029. Implementing the project would enable action in the full range of ground operations, including at night and in extreme climatic conditions, the report said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Bulgarian media report that the Gripen offer was ranked first, at 92%, while Italy’s offer of Tranche 1 Eurofighters was ranked second, with 61%.
Portugal’s offer, which was not ranked, also included a logistics package provided by the United States.)