The caretaker government of Bulgaria decided to buy eight more F-16 fighter jets from the U.S., which cost a total amount of $1.3 billion. It is expected to be delivered in 2027. Bulgaria will have a total of sixteen f-16 fighters of the latest block 70/72 modification, as they purchased eight F-16s before scheduled to be delivered in 2023. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the delivery is two years late, and the first eight F-16s will be delivered in 2025. The cost of these fighters is the same as the first eight fighters, but the second batch will come with large armaments, more spare engines and two seats.
The terms of the deal were decided under the supervision of ex-prime minister Kiril Petkov’s administration present in the office. The U.S. proposal was conveyed to Bulgaria two months ago. The agreement must be officially adopted at the start of the new National Assembly’s term, but most lawmakers appear to favour it. Only the socialist BSP and the pro-Russian populist party “Vazrazhdane” opposed buying the jets in the previous parliament.
The amount was paid in advance while buying the first batch of these jets. Now the amount can be paid in instalments. The F-16 is a compact multirole fighter and high manoeuvrable jet specially designed for high-speed flights at high altitudes. It can also locate its target in extreme weather conditions, with a top speed of 2123 kilometres per hour and a range of 925 kilometres.
For now, Bulgaria can only rely on Soviet build MIG-29, and they can’t be used more than seven or eight units simultaneously. They were only used till 2023. If Bulgaria doesn’t replace them with something advance and high-tech, the airspace will be left unguarded and have nothing to defend against any upcoming threat.
Earlier this week, defence minister Dimitar Stoyanov declared that he was discussing with Poland how to maintain the Soviet engines for the aircraft. Even if the talks are successful, the country must replace them by 2025. Bulgaria has already asked the United States, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Israel for offers of replacement aircraft.