Direct F-16 negotiations to commence in MayDirect F-16 negotiations to commence in May
US ambassador: The choice of these fighter planes guarantees revolutionary modernisation of the Bulgarian armyEuropost
The direct negotiations for the purchase of US-made F-16 fighter planes by the Bulgarian Air Force are expected to start in May. Vice-Minister of Defence Atanas Zapryanov revealed the news in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio during a conference dedicated to the 15th anniversary of Bulgaria's accession to NATO.
He added that the US has gone over the requirements posed by the Bulgarian government and that the order must now be analysed and valued. At the following stage, the country's financial situation will have to be reconciled with what the US company offers. According to Zapryanov, the price proposal has to be approved by the US Congress. “All eight aircraft currently being negotiated for Bulgaria will be ready by 2024,” predicted the vice-minister, adding: “This move will not only reduce Bulgaria's dependence on Russian and Soviet technology, but it is a strategic choice in terms of further fostering the cooperation with the US, which will last for decades. The US has already invested over $300m in training and defence projects over the past few years.”
For his part, US Ambassador to Sofia, H.E. Eric Rubin noted that by acquiring the fighter planes Bulgaria will demonstrate its desire to play an active role as a NATO member. Rubin also touched on the fact that the country is modernising its army amid a whole host of challenges, including outside factors such as destabilising actions taken by other countries as well as national budgetary constraints and a complex domestic political situation.
“Bulgaria's EU Presidency last year is the country's greatest success, which helped turn it into a regional leader,” concluded the US ambassador. He is confident that the latest-generation F-16 fighter planes of the Block 70 line are the right choice for Bulgaria, and that they will contribute to the country's efforts towards a revolutionary modernisation of its armed forces, sound protection of its airspace, and leaving the vestiges of Russian influence behind. “The US stands with Bulgaria in these hard times for the region and for the collective security,” said the ambassador.