The US government has offered Bulgaria a range of options to acquire Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, under a proposal submitted last month.

Provided in response to a defence ministry request for pricing and availability data, the offer includes the possible sale of 16 new aircraft, or the provision of 12 Super Hornets and 12 surplus Northrop F-5 fighters. Sofia had also requested information on the possible supply of 12 F-5s to prepare its pilots to operate Western fighters. The US offer proposes a contract being signed in 2007, with first aircraft deliveries to take place as soon as 2009. Boeing declines to disclose a price, but Bulgarian sources say an unarmed Super Hornet will cost around $54 million.

Bulgarian defence minister Veselin Bliznakov says a tender for the purchase of up to 18 new fighters will be announced within the next two or three years. The package is expected to total around $1 billion. Other likely bidders include Lockheed Martin with the F-16C/D Block 52+ and the Gripen International-promoted Saab Gripen.

Source: Flight International