Bulgaria’s caretaker government has decided to purchase eight additional Lockheed F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets. In this way, Bulgaria will have a full squadron of 16 fighters of the same class. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that at the end of 2019, the Bulgarian government paid for eight F-16 Block 70/72 fighters, which are already in production.
The new batch of eight fighters will also be armed with air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. “Air-to-surface, air-to-air strike capabilities are also included in the project. I.e. we will have a full squadron of 16 aircraft. The aircraft are expected to arrive in 2027,” Bulgarian Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov announced in a statement.
The purchase of the second eight fighters already received the approval of the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA] and Congress in April of this year, as we reported back then. According to DSCA, the maximum possible amount of the deal is $1.673 billion. However, Stoyanov announced yesterday [September 21] that the value of the purchase is within $1.3 billion.
According to Bulgarian analysts, the order for the second eight fighters is a kind of replacement for the Russian MiG-29s, which “some assume” will be sent to Ukraine. Such a claim was denied back in April by John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman who said: “the sale could not be subject to such replacement.”
The first eight fighters paid for in 2019 include four F-16 Block 70 fighters, four F-16 Block 72 fighters, 11 F100-GE-129D engines, 11 Improved Programmable Display Generators [iPDG], 11 AN / APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array [AESA] Scalable Agile Beam Radars (SABR), 11 LN-260 or equivalent Embedded Global Positioning System [GPS] Inertial Navigation Systems [INS] [EGI] with Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module [SAASM] and Precise Positioning Service [PPS ], various types of missiles, bombs, and related equipment.
According to the latest information from Lockheed Martin, the first eight F-16s should begin their deployment in Bulgaria in 2026.
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