Defense Minister: Caretaker Government is Not Negotiating for New F-16 Aircraft
According to the minister, the project for modernization of the Air Force envisages the acquisition of combat vehicles in two stages of eight fighters.
The caretaker government is neither negotiating nor buying new fighters. This was said by the Minister of Defense Georgi Panayotov from the parliamentary rostrum. His answer is in connection with the declaration of GERB from yesterday.
According to him, Bulgaria has in no way committed financially or legally to the purchase of eight new combat vehicles from the American company Lockheed Martin. He specified that the Air Force Modernization Project is one of the priority investment intentions of the Ministry of Defense.
"Two parliaments adopted decisions approving a project for investment expenditure for the acquisition of a new type of fighter aircraft, and subsequently its update," said Minister Panayotov.
The Caretaker Minister of Defense clarified that the main idea of the project is to acquire 16 aircraft of one type in one configuration - in two stages of eight machines.
"In early 2019, at the suggestion of the Council of Ministers and as a result of a decision of the National Assembly to implement the first stage, four agreements were signed between the governments of Bulgaria and the United States for the purchase of eight F-16 aircraft. Observing the deadlines of the planned processes set by the 43rd and 44th parliaments for the acquisition of 16 aircraft, the Ministry of Defense continues the preparations for the implementation of the second stage of the project. Now the only possible approach is to send a written request. Only after receiving a response from the American side, a project for investment costs can be prepared, "the minister added.
Panayovot said that the next eight F-16s will not be paid in advance.
GERB commented that it is only right for the country to have money ready in advance for this cost because possible payments should start in 2024. BSP attacked the deputies from the second-largest parliamentary group in the National Assembly because they approved the purchase of the first eight fighters.
According to the socialists, it is normal for this deal to be completed when the project envisages the purchase of two stages (8 + 8). Democratic Bulgaria supported the actions of the caretaker cabinet but criticized the overall strategy for the rearmament of the Air Force.
DPS challenged the work of the caretaker minister on this case. They called on the deputies not to argue whether it is necessary to acquire new fighters, because this decision has already been made, but clarified that now is not the time for this discussion. "Stand up BG! We are coming"made a remark about informing the public on the subject.
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