Bulgarian Govt Moves to Formalize Fighter Jet Purchase
Bulgaria's Defense Minister Anyu Angelov plans to table to the Cabinet by the end of October 2012 the long-anticipated proposal for the purchase of new fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force.
This has been made clear by Gen. Angelov who explained that the Cabinet's decision will formalize the plan of the Defense Ministry for the purchase of new fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force.
Thus, Angelov will receive a mandate for formal talks with potential suppliers, the Bulgarian Defense Ministry having already had communication with them.
The Defense Minister did explain, however, that the Bulgarian government will hold a tender for the purchase of fighter jets only if it decides to buy new planes.
It is also mulling purchasing second-hand jets in which case that can be done with an intergovernmental agreement.
After the Borisov Cabinet declared ambitious plans in 2009-2010, in 2011, Bulgaria's purchase of new jet fighters for its outdated air force became ever more remote, after in October 2012 Bulgaria's Defense Ministry admitted it will not be starting the tender in 2012, as it planned.
The delay was caused by the fact that instead of receiving a budget equaling 1.5% of the GDP in 2012, the Defense Ministry's total funding will amount to only 1.2% of the GDP.
In September 2011, in a "butter before guns" statement, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said the country was in no hurry to pick a brand of strategic fighter jets and to make a purchase.
According to the investment plan of the Bulgarian Defense Ministry made public in April 2011, it will pour BGN 2 B in armament purchases and military modernization projects by 2020. About half of this sum was expected to go for the purchase of new multi-purpose fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force. The long-anticipated armament deal has been stressed as the main priority for the Defense Ministry because at present Bulgaria still has only Soviet-made planes with even the most modern ones – MiG 29 – approaching rapidly their expiration date.
Bulgaria will most likely choose from among the fighter jets of Swedish company Saab called Gripen, US-made F-16, and Eurofighter Typhoon, after in the spring of 2011, the Defense Ministry surveyed USA, France, Germany, and Sweden for their offers. Bulgaria will probably buy 8 new fighter jets, with 2015, the indicative delivery date, likely to be pushed back by 1-2 years.
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