SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Bulgaria will expect its first F-16 fighters after 36 months, according to the words of Krasimir Karakachanov, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
According to the minister, the contract between Bulgaria and the American manufacturer could be signed this year by the end of June.
At NATO’s Security Conference, held in Munich, he spoke with representatives of the U.S. concern and received a response from them that “36 months is a normal delivery period.”
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that the new plant in South Carolina, designed only for the F-16 production, is almost finished, but waiting in line for the same model before us are Bahrain and Slovakia.
On 25th June last year, Lockheed Martin announced that it had concluded a deal with Bahrain for new 16 fighters F-16 Block 70 and only a month later Slovakia signed an agreement for a delivery of 14 of the type.
At the same time, Belgium refused to upgrade its old F-16s with their newest equivalent and decided to replace them with 34 F-35 Lightning II.
Minister Karakachanov expressed his wish if a deal with the U.S. is concluded, then a way for industrial cooperation to be paved. “But there must be industrial cooperation, and it must be, even for the partial maintenance of the aircraft we want to acquire to be done in Bulgaria. Here we have capabilities – both at the Avionams aircraft repair plant in Plovdiv, and by the “Terem-Letets.”
A decision on the choice of a new Bulgarian fighter comes after almost two years of waiting, caused by the political situation in the country. Georgi Bliznashki’s caretaker government selected a contractor under the then-procedure to be the Swedish Gripen of SAAB, but serious doubts about the choice remained.
They came mainly from the not stated question – how did it happen that only Gripen submitted an offer for a brand new fighter, and the rest of the participants – for second hand aircraft?
Thus, the newly elected Cabinet of Boyko Borisov restarted the whole procedure, as he repeatedly stated that he wanted Bulgaria to buy brand new aircraft.
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