By Igor Bozinovski

Bulgaria's government has given the green light for the $1.25 billion acquisition of eight Lockheed Martin F-16Vs.

Approval from the council of ministers was obtained on 10 July, with the agreement likely to be put before the country's parliament next week.



Lockheed Martin

Sofia is to take six single-seat aircraft and a pair of two-seat exanples under the Foreign Military Sales agreement, which also includes training and support packages. It hopes to have received all of the F-16s by 2023.

In addition, Bulgaria will establish an overhaul facility for hydraulic landing-gear components on the F-16. The USA will also help set up local development of unmanned air vehicles, says economy minister Emil Karanikolov.

The new fighters – Bulgaria's biggest military procurement since the fall of Communism – will be used to replace its ageing fleet of RAC MiG-29s, which were delivered in the late 1980s and early 1990s.