SOFIA, (BGM) – The maximum normal amount that Bulgaria is able to afford for 8 F-16 fighter aircrafts is BGN 2 billion, the Minister of Defence, Krasimir Karakachanov, said at a meeting of the Parliamentary Defense Committee, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
On Tuesday, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that the Department of State had given its approval on principle for the possible sale of 8 new combat aircrafts F-16C/D Block 70/72 to Bulgaria at a price of $ 1.673 billion (almost BGN 2.9 billion). This is over BGN 1 billion more than the Sofia-approved price capped at BGN 1.8 billion (a bit below $ 1.04 billion).
At the beginning of the year, the Parliament gave a mandate to negotiate with the US and allowed a change to this price cap.
Karakachanov also said that he expected a bid below the initial one received at the end of last year, and that it would not be cut either the number or the capabilities of the aircraft. He emphasized that the Congress had voted the permission he gave to the US government for the deal as a limit. “This is not the amount on which the contract is to be signed. The US Congress gives the maximum amount which the government can contract with Bulgaria,” said Karakachanov. The Minister of Defence cited Slovakia as a model, for which the Congress voted $ 2.8 billion, and the Slovak and the US governments signed a $ 1.8 billion contract. This is the sum of $ 128,571,428 for one fighter aircraft, as Slovakia signed a deal for the delivery of 14 aircrafts.
“If both sides do not find an acceptable environment where to meet, there is a chance that there will be no deal. However, I measure it at no more than 25%,” Karakachanov said. He specified that within 14 days, we must receive a formal proposal for the US fighter aircrafts’ price and then we can “continue the talks if it doesn’t match our expectations.” When the conditions are agreed, the contract must also be approved by the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly in order to come into force.
If Bulgaria achieves in the negotiations a price similar to that of Slovakia, the deal will come within the limit set by Karakachanov.
One of the reasons why Bulgaria may not get the same price is that there is no credit history when dealing with the US, unlike Slovakia, which has bought helicopters.
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Translator editor: Monika Evgenieva