The US government has detailed its proposed $1.67 billion sale of Lockheed Martin F-16V fighters to Bulgaria.

The package includes the eight fighters in addition to a broad range of sensors, weapons, training devices, software, training, support, and spares according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) filing.

"Bulgaria currently relies on the United States and the United Kingdom to participate in joint air policing," says the DSCA. "By acquiring these F-16s and the associated sustainment and training package, Bulgaria will be able to provide for the defense of its own airspace and borders. Bulgaria will have no difficulty absorbing this aircraft and services into its armed forces."

Sofia has long sought to replace its aging fleet of Mikoyan MiG-29s with 16 fighters obtained in two tranches. Cirium's Fleets Analyzer shows that it operates 15 Mikoyan MiG-29s, of which three are two-seat MiG-29UBs. The average age of the fleet is 29.1 years.

In early January, Bulgaria's National Assembly voted to enter negotiations with Washington DC for the F-16V. Other rivals for the deal included the Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D and used Eurofighter Typhoons from Italy.

While Sofia apparently favours the F-16V, media reports have suggested that it could balk at the price tag of the deal, which will take place under the US government's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mechanism.