In December 2018, the National Assembly gave the Bulgarian government a mandate to negotiate with Washington (USA) about the purchase of eight new Lockheed Martin F-16V Block 70s to replace the ageing MiG-29s of the Bulgarski Voenno Vzdushni Sili (BVVS, Bulgarian Air Force).
Recently, these negotiations are likely to halt due to the high price of these brand new F-16Vs and the Bulgarian government may switch the deal in the favor of new build Swedish Saab Gripens or used Italian Eurofighter Typhoons.
As reported by Scramble Facebook News Magazine, Bulgarian Defense minister Krasimir Karakachanov said: “Government authorities are not expecting to receive anything for free from the USA, but we expect them to offer the aircraft for normal prices. They must offer prices similar to that offered to other countries, for example, Slovakia.”
As we have already explained the F-16V has already been selected by Slovakia which will be buying 14 F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft for USD 1,78 billion.
In January 2019, Lockheed Martin tried to sell the eight F-16Vs for USD 1,05 billion (1,8 billion levs), and the Bulgarian government approved this amount. But now it is reported that the USA bid exceeds the budget by USD 174 million (300 million Levs). Next month it is expected that the manufacturer as well as governmental officials of both sides will discuss the subject during a meeting in Brussels.
The announcement of Bulgaria that they may sway to Gripen or Typhoon is of course a good negotiation in which they force Lockheed Martin and the USA to drop their price.
According Lockheed Martin the F-16V Block 70/72 is the newest and most advanced F-16 production configuration, combining numerous capability and structural upgrades.
The F-16 Block 70/72 in fact combines capability upgrades, most notably the advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar with a new avionics architecture, and structural upgrades to extend the structural life of the aircraft by more than 50 percent beyond that of previous production F-16 aircraft. F-16 Block 70/72 software takes advantage of technologies not available when earlier Block F-16s were developed and produced. Operational capabilities are enhanced through an advanced datalink, targeting pod and weapons; precision GPS navigation and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS).
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin
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