Awaiting F-16s, Bulgaria closes in on interim fighter potentially from Sweden or France
, 2022-11-22 15:25:47,
BELFAST — The Bulgarian government looks to be edging closer to reaching an agreement for an interim fighter aircraft after holding talks with Sweden and France, while the southeastern European nation awaits American F-16s.
The potential acquisition of the jets was prompted by Lockheed Martin when it delayed delivery of F-16 Block 70 aircraft to Sofia from 2023 to 2025, following COVID-19 supplier issues, meaning they wouldn’t go operational until 2028 or so.
Thus, 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 (MoD) spokesperson told Breaking Defense in a statement.
“Until the F-16s reach full operational capability around 2028-2030, interim fighters will have to be used for the purpose of carrying out the Air Policing mission in the airspace of Bulgaria,” the spokesperson explained.
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. The Netherlands, Spain and Italy have all since confirmed they are unable to meet the request, according to the Bulgarian MoD spokesperson. The spokesperson didn’t say how the US responded, and a representative for the State Department said they…
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