Bulgaria Mulls Four Options for New Fighter Jets

Bulgaria will be selecting among four offers of multi-purpose jet fighters to regenerate its ageing fleet of Soviet MiG-29 planes, the Defence Ministry said on Monday.

The four options came from Italy, the US and Sweden.

US contractor Lockheed Martin has proposed the newest version of its F-16 Fighting Falcon platform, the fourth generation F-16V "Viper".

The second US option is the Boeing-made McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighter-attack plane, capable of flying off an aircraft carrier.

The third company that applied for the tender with a new aircraft is Sweden's Saab consortium, with its Gripen C/D fighters.

The Swedish jets were previously selected by the caretaker government of Ognyan Gerdjikov from January to May 2017, appointed by President Radev.

In October that year, however, parliament revised the decision of the Gerdjikov government, alleging procedural violations had compromised the selection.

Lastly, the Italian government has put in a bid to sell Bulgaria second-hand Eurofighter Typhoon planes, although both Defence Minister Krassimir Karkachanov and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov have explicitly said they want new jets.

At a ceremony earlier in September, Karkachanov commented that he expected seven companies to send in proposals for the public tender that is estimated to be worth 1.8 billion lev, or 900 million euros, to be spent over nine years.

Only four responded in the end, however.

The previous tender procedure saw several additional offers of second-hand jets from Israel, Portugal, France and Germany.

Under a rearmament project adopted by parliament in July, the new airplanes need to be produced by a NATO country and the dedicated sum should cover eight jets.

At the time,...

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