Sofia, Bulgaria: In view of the former Bulgarian Defense Ministers, the delay in the delivery of new American F-16 fighter jets is being witnessed amid the United States’ “lack of trust” in Bulgaria’s authorities as not being proven to be “reliably” safeguard NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) secrets.
Former caretaker defence minister – Velizar Shalamanov, in his statement, added, “We are experiencing difficulties in the process of protecting classified information. I have been in NATO for almost ten years, and I know how they issue access to classified information certificates, thereafter a study lasting six to eight months. And here, our people issued a permit to Peevski in less than five working days.”
Following the above statement, Shalamanov then cited, “I have such a vague assumption that even F-16s are slowing down for this very reason because the security of this technology is still not 100% guaranteed.”
Another Former defence minister, Todor Tagarev, on the matter, said, “Bulgaria must develop a system for the security of classified information. We will continue to permit Russian representatives of (the military airport) Graf Ignatievo along (the Russian firm) MiG.”
“There must be a 110% guarantee that Russian foot will not be permitted there in any way. There must be a guarantee that the employees at the base will not then go to drink vodka with the Russians,” underscored Tagarev as he shared his opinion on the delay.
This new modified F-16 contains – F-35’s radar system, new control systems, specific targeting of weapons as well as a new system to evade collision with the ground. The Balkan state has purchased eight F-16 modified versions, likely to be delivered by the forthcoming year, which is now facing a delay and will be delivered by 2025.
According to the United States authorities, the COVID-19 pandemic is the sole cause behind the delay.