Bulgaria to Buy Fighter Jets without Tender, Eyes Second-Hand Deal
Bulgaria's Cabinet has granted a mandate to Defense Minister Anyu Angelov to negotiate without a tender the purchase of new fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force.
What is expected to become Bulgaria's most expensive public procurement deal in the recent years – the purchase of 8 or 9 fighter jets for Bulgarian military – is thus going to be made without a formal tender with potential suppliers providing competitive bids.
"I need to report the results of the talks by March 1, 2013," Defense Minister Anyu Angelov explained after Wednesday's weekly sitting of the Bulgarian Cabinet.
He elaborated that his Ministry will negotiate with potential suppliers of fighter jets from the USA, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, and Israel, among other nations.
"We're not holding a tender in order to preserve the opportunity to buy second-hand fighter jets. It doesn't matter which government will made the final decision, what matters is that the respective government is informed based on a very thorough analysis," Angelov added.
According to the plans of the Bulgarian Defense Ministry, Bulgaria will probably spend about USD 400 M on the purchase of fighter jets, the deal being subject to the approval of the Parliament, not just the Cabinet, as it is worth more than USD 100 M.
Unofficial information cited in the Bulgarian press says that Bulgaria is likely to buy nine second-hand F-16 fighter jets from Portugal, which are about 30 years old.
Rumen Radev, deputy commander of the Bulgarian Air Force, who is studying the fighter jet offers, is quoted as saying that several offers seem best fit for Bulgaria's needs, including the purchase of new Gripen fighter jets from Sweden, the purchase of second-hand F-16s from Portugal, or the purchase of second-hand Eurofighters from Italy.
Earlier in 2012, the European Commission sent a letter to the governments of
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the Borisov Cabinet declared ambitious plans in 2009-2010, in 2011, Bulgaria's purchase of new jet fighters for its outdated air force became ever more remote, after in October 2012 Bulgaria's Defense Ministry admitted it will not be starting the tender in 2012, as it planned.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.
In the past couple of years, Bulgaria's government has made it clear it will most likely choose from among the fighter jets of Swedish company Saab called Gripen, US-made F-16, and Eurofighter Typhoon; this was after in the spring of 2011, the Defense Ministry surveyed USA, France, Germany, and Sweden for their offers. Bulgaria will probably buy 8 fighter jets, with 2015, the indicative delivery date, likely to be pushed back by 1-2 years.
Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic expressing concern over their potential plans to buy military planes without holding tenders, a move deemed to be in contradiction to the fair competition rules.
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