SOFIA: Bulgaria’s parliament gave a green light on Friday for the purchase of a second batch of eight new F-16 fighter jets from the United States in a deal valued at about $1.3 billion.

The European Union and NATO member country, which had ordered eight Lockheed Martin F-16 jets in 2019, is seeking to replace its ageing Russian MiG-29 fighter jets and improve its compliance to NATO standards.

The United States has already approved the potential sale.

The deal, which sparked heated debate in the parliament where two Russia-friendly parties opposed it, voicing concerns over the hefty military spending and the fact that Black Sea country is yet to receive aircraft under the first contract.

Interim Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov backed the purchase, payments on which will be made in tranches over 10 years.

“We need the second batch of aircraft. The first eight F-16 would absolutely not be enough to carry out our air policing duties,” Stoyanov told the parliament.

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Bulgaria is also holding talks with Poland for the purchase of eight engines to keep its MiG fleet operational until the end of 2023.

With the first F-16 jets expected to be delivered to Bulgaria in 2025, the country is also looking to lease other military aircraft to cover the expected gap and protect the country’s airspace.


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