Bulgaria gets Approval for F-16 Block 70 Acquisition

Bulgaria gets Approval for F-16 Block 70 Acquisition

Bulgaria got its approval for the long-awaited F-16 acquisition programme. The State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Bulgaria of F-16 C/D Block 70 fighter and related equipment for $1.673 billion. Today, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

Bulgaria has requested to buy four F-16 C Block 70 aircraft; four F-16 D Block 70 aircraft; 11 F100-GE-129D engines (8 installed, 3 spares); 11 Improved Programmable Display Generators (iPDG) (8 installed, 3 spares); 11 AN/APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Scalable Agile Beam Radars (SABR) (8 installed, 3 spares); 19 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) AIM-120C-7/C-8 or equivalent missiles; 48 LAU-129A launchers (40 installed, 8 spares); 28 GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs); 11 M61A1 Vulcan Cannons (8 installed, 3 spares); 20 AIM-9X Block II missiles; eight AIM-9X Block II Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs); 24 FMU-139 or FMU-152 fuze systems; 12 KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) Tail Kits for 500LB GBU-38 or Laser JDAM GBU-54. The estimated total cost is $1.673 billion.

Bulgaria's government named the Saab JAS 39 Gripen the preferred candidate in the country's new combat aircraft competition in 2016.

Sofia issued a request for proposals in 2016 to purchase eight multirole fighters, which were to be delivered by 2020.

However, in May 2017, a new government postponed plans to acquire new aircraft.

In October 2018, potential suppliers responded to a renewed tender for aircraft, which included new Lockheed Martin F-16V Viper aircraft, new Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, second-hand Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from Italy, and second-hand Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D aircraft from Sweden.

The Bulgarian parliament approved the government's proposal to begin negotiations with the US to purchase F-16V Block 70 aircraft in January 2019.

The United States State Department approved the possible sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Bulgaria on June 3, 2019.

The contract was estimated to cost $1.67 billion.

The deal was vetoed by Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on July 23, 2019, citing the need for a broader consensus for the deal, sending it back to parliament, but on July 26, the deal was approved by parliament again, overruling the veto, and Radev approved this time.

The US government officially awarded Lockheed Martin the contract to produce the F-16 for Bulgaria in April 2020, with a completion date of 2027.