Bulgaria is looking for fighter jets for rent
Bulgaria is looking for fighter jets to lease while the country’s Air Force awaits the arrival of new American-made F-16s.
According to Breaking Defense, negotiations are ongoing with Sweden and France.
An official of the Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria said that the negotiations were in the early stages.
In early 2020, Lockheed Martin received a contract on manufacturing F-16 fighters for Bulgaria. Under its terms, the company was to produce 8 F-16 Block 70/72 fighters and deliver them in 2023-2024.
But later it became known that due to COVID-19, Lokheed Martin had failed to produce the first batch for Bulgaria in the agreed time. The delivery date was postponed from 2023 to 2025. Therefore, the need arose to rent a used aircraft in Bulgaria.
“Bulgaria requires an “interim” type to replace an aging MiG-29 fleet that’s expected to be unserviceable due to maintenance issues from the end of 2023 onward,” a Bulgarian Ministry of Defense spokesperson told Breaking Defense in a statement.
The interim fighter acquisition started out with Bulgaria sending letters to the United States, Sweden, France, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, detailing the possibility of leasing second-hand aircraft.
According to the spokesman of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy responded they were unable to fulfill the request.
“Sweden and France have responded favorably to our request,” the spokesperson said. “We have initiated talks with both countries to explore the possibilities for the interim fighter acquisition. We have not received any offers yet.”
Besides, in an attempt to resolve the MiG-29 maintenance issues, Bulgaria held negotiations with Poland regarding the potential maintenance of Soviet-era fighters.
As previously reported, Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted to approve an investment plan for the purchase of a further eight US-made F-16 fighter jets, in addition to the eight the country previously ordered and paid for. The second acquisition of F-16 Block 70/72 fighters will cost about 2.6 billion leva ($1.3 billion).
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