Military Aviation

US State Department approves the sale of eight F-16 Vipers to Bulgaria

Since the F-16 Vipers are intended to replace Bulgarian Air Force’s MiG-29s, they could be assigned to 3.IAB, based at Graf Ignatievo.

Back in January 2019 Bulgaria’s parliament approved the government’s plan to start talks with the United States on buying eight new F-16 Vipers, to replace its aging Soviet-made MiG-29s and improve compliance with NATO standards.

On May 30 2019, the US State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the Bulgarski Voenno Vzdushni Sili (Bulgarian Air Force) of eight F-16C/D Block 70/72 aircraft (marketed as the F-16V) with support, for an estimated cost of almost USD 1.7 billion.

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The deal includes the Vipers and the usual complement of high tech weapons and systems, spare parts, and, of course, the training of personnel.

According to Scramble Facebook News Magazine, since the F-16s are intended to replace the air force’s MiG-29s, they could be assigned to 3 Iztrebitelna Aviacionna Basa (3.IAB), based at Graf Ignatievo.

As we explained on May 26 since the price tag for the F-16V is quite steep, Bulgaria may still consider buying SAAB Gripens, or second-hand Italian Typhoons.

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In January in fact, 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).

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.

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.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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