Bulgarian F-16s: We Wanted a XXL Size Pizza, But an Empty Box is Coming

PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – “Every “move” down and cut of this package already leads to an impossibility of realization of the aircraft’s operational capabilities,” the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said a month ago.

To reduce the price, Bulgaria buys fighters with less functionality, the Chief Secretary of the President, Colonel Dimitar Stoyanov said on TV channel bTV.

The military expert from the president’s team gave an example that the ordered from Bulgaria F16s would be able only to release free fall bombs – nothing different from what aviation had in 1913.

There will be neither laser targeting nor GPS targeting, Stoyanov said, adding that the United States has warned us that is in Bulgaria’s interest to extend the package if we want a multifunctional fighter jet with all the capabilities and a trained team etc.

In our request to the US we asked to buy 24 pcs. MK-82 bombs, 15 sets of GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II, 15 sets of GBU-54 Laser JDAM, 28 pcs. GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB-1), 4 pcs. AN / AAQ-33 Sniper ATPs.

We actually buy 24 pcs. MK-82 bombs and only two AN / AAQ-33 Sniper ATPs, sources said.

According to them [sources], it`s the same situation in the “air-to-air” missile package:

  • We asked for 16 AIM-120C7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), but actually buy 13 pcs.;
  • We asked for 24 AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles , but actually buy 12 pcs.;
  • We asked for 48 LAU-129 Multi-Purpose Launchers, but actually buy 26 pcs;
  • We asked for 20 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) II with Night Vision Goggle compatibility, but actually buy 12 pcs.

The number of pilots to be trained is also reduced – from 16 to 12. The number of engineers and technicians to be trained is also reduced – from 75 to 65.

General Electric F110 replacement engines are reduced as well – we asked for two, now we`ve got one.

The two pilot`s trainning systems, which will be placed in Graf Ignatievo airfield, will be a lower class.

In fact, with the same success we could buy 10 SAAB Gripen or second-hand aircraft, MiGs, Su, Typhoons, even the Pakistani JF-17 Block 3.


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Author: Boyko Nikolov

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.