The US has approved the sale of Eight F-16 Fighters to Bulgaria
The US State Department approved the sale to Bulgaria of 8 new F-16 fighters (F-16 C Block 70) and related equipment, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Pentagon's Defense and Security Cooperation Agency.
The agency also announced that it had provided Congress with the required certificates for the deal today. And clarified that these are 4 F-16 C Block 70 and 4 F-16 D Block 70 aircraft, as well as a long list of equipment and weapons for them.
The total cost of everything is expected to be a maximum of 1 billion and 673 million dollars.
The announcement of the potential sale is a requirement of the law, the agency said.
The main contractor will be Lockheed Martin.
The topic was also commented on at a Pentagon briefing. Asked if the announcement meant that the sale of F-16s was intended to replace the MiGs that Bulgaria would eventually send to Ukraine, spokesman John Kirby said:
“I will not speak on behalf of another country and I will definitely leave the State Department to talk about the sale of military (equipment) abroad. But at the same time, I will not draw (such) conclusions from the message.”
Kirby also said he would not talk about what another country is willing or able to do in terms of its support for Ukraine.
The new fighters will improve Bulgaria's ability to meet current and future threats by enabling the Bulgarian Air Force to routinely patrol the Black Sea region, according to the Pentagon's Defense and Security Cooperation Agency.
AFP notes that the approval of the deal provides an opportunity to strengthen the Bulgarian military aviation at a time when the regional threat has increased due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Last year, it became clear that Bulgaria was negotiating with the United States for the supply of these eight fighters. It was emphasized then that our country will insist that the new machines be paid in installments.
In 2019, Bulgaria paid 1 billion and 300 million dollars for the production and acquisition of eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft. The package for them includes training of pilots and ground crews, logistics, auxiliary equipment and military equipment.
The first two machines from this deal were to be delivered next year, but due to the pandemic, this is expected to be delayed by about two years.
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