Bulgaria has approved the purchase of its second batch of eight F-16 fighters from the US for $1.3 billion, Reuters revealed, citing interim Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov.
The NATO country is seeking to replace its aging fleet of Soviet Mig-29s.
Acquiring the Lockheed Martin aircraft will also improve its compliance with NATO standards.
“Acquiring new aircraft is extremely important for the Bulgarian air force. We have old Soviet aircraft, which we cannot maintain because of the problems that occurred following the conflict in Ukraine,” the outlet quoted Stoyanov as saying.
The deal needs to be approved by parliament, which will convene after the October 2 general elections. The US government approved the deal in April.
First F-16 in 2025
Bulgaria is one of the three NATO countries, along with Poland and Slovakia, which still operate the Mig-29. The country bought its first batch of eight F-16s in 2019, expecting the first delivery in 2025.
In the interim, the country is in talks with Poland to buy eight aircraft engines to keep the Migs operational until 2023.
The country has also requested countries such as the US, Israel, the Netherlands, France, and Sweden to lease military aircraft for air policing.