Bulgarian Government Approves Draft Agreements for F-16V Purchase

Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers gave its approval of four draft agreements with the United States on July 10 that help pave the way for a procurement of eight

Block 70 multirole combat aircraft, at a cost of $1.25 billion.

The approval by the government sets the acquisition process in motion, with the requisite parliamentary approval on tap for next week. Should Parliament grant its approval, the signature of the country’s defense minister, Krassimir Karakachanov, on the four contracts covering delivery of the new-build aircraft (plus an associated training and support package) will become official.

On the industrial front, Bulgaria will establish an overhaul facility for hydraulic landing-gear components used on the F-16.

The planned acquisition is being made under the U.S. government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channel. Earlier, on May 30, 2019, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential $1.673 billion FMS to Bulgaria of the F-16s approved by the U.S. State Department.

If Bulgaria moves ahead with the procurement as expected, it will be the largest foreign defense purchase by the country since 1989.

More crucially, it will begin bringing to a close a decades-old project to replace the Bulgarian Air Force’s legacy MiG-29 fleet – a project that has remained in the Bulgarian military acquisition and modernization pipeline and undergone multiple permutations since 2006. The 1980s-vintage MiGs are used by Bulgaria for air-policing duties and the overall protection of Bulgarian air sovereignty. Eight of these are undergoing overhaul and modification work by Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG) to keep them airworthy until fully replaced by the new F-16Vs.

This first batch purchase of what is ultimately intended to be a two-batch procurement totaling 16 F-16Vs will include six one-seat and a pair of two-seat variants. Deliveries would be completed by 2023. The second batch will be procured via installed payments, unlike the first batch, which will be paid for up front.



About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is Forecast International’s director of military and defense markets. In this role, Dan oversees a team of analysts tasked with covering everything from budgeting to weapons systems to defense electronics and military aerospace. Additionally, for over 17 years Dan has, at various times, authored the International Military Markets reports for Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Dan's work has been cited in Defense News, Real Clear Defense, Asian Military Review, Al Jazeera, and Financial Express, among others, and he has also contributed commentary to The Diplomat, The National Interest and World Politics Review. He has been quoted in Arabian Business, the Financial Times, Flight International, The New York Times, Bloomberg and National Defense Magazine. In addition, Dan has made guest appearances on the online radio show Midrats and on The Media Line, as well as The Red Line Podcast, plus media appearances on France 24 and World Is One News (WION).

View all posts by Daniel Darling →