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Bulgaria announces F-16V Block 70 procurement to replace ageing MiG-29s

Posted by Dylan Malyasov on


The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a plan to procure eight F-16V Block 70 fighter jets aimed at replacing its ageing Soviet-designed MiG-29s.

On Friday, Bulgaria’s defense ministry commission recommended that the government starts talks with the United States to buy new F-16V Block 70 fighter aircraft to improve its compliance with NATO standards.

“The acquisition of a new multipurpose fighter such as F-16V Block 70 from the United States, equipped with the latest generation radar and weaponry will improve significantly the combat capabilities of the Bulgarian air forces,” Bulgaria’s Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov told reporters on Friday.

Apart from the new Lockheed Martin F-16 jets the United States also proposed new Boeing F-18 Super Hornets. The ministry, however, said it that offer did not meet the tender requirements.

The Lockheed Martin F-16V Block 70/72 is the latest and most advanced F-16 on the market today. The F-16 Block 70/72 configuration includes numerous enhancements designed to keep the F-16 at the forefront of international security, strengthening its position as the world’s foremost combat-proven 4th Generation multi-role fighter aircraft.

The F-16 Block 70/72 provides advanced combat capabilities in a scalable and affordable package. The core of the F-16 Block 70/72 configuration is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a large-format, high-resolution display; and a high-volume, high-speed data bus. 

“From what I’ve discussed with pilots, they say F-16 Block 70 are significantly better aircraft than the others they offer us – the old Eurofighters and the Gripens,” Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on 14 December.

Also, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a press release from December 20 said that: “The United States is committed to working with the Bulgarian government to tailor the final scope of a potential F-16 sale to fit its budgetary and operational requirements, while still offering superior capabilities”.

“The United States looks forward to completing final negotiations with the Bulgarian government,” the press release concluded.

But it is worth noting that the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said about “a triumph of lobbyist” during the choice of a new fighter for the needs of the country’s air force.

“I don’t want to protect this or that type of aircraft, they are all beautiful to me, I flew them. But I want to protect the selection process, which should be transparent, open and objective,” he said on the air of a local radio station.

He added that the U.S. F-16 fighters are very expensive, including in operation. And put the United States cannot earlier than six years. Until that time, the country will have to build an infrastructure for them at its own expense.

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