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Sunday, July 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bulgaria’s government to buy 8 new F-16s from US

n this Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 photo, an Iraqi army soldier stand guard near a U.S.- made Iraqi Air Force F-16 fighter jet at the Balad Air Base, Iraq. Bulgaria’s government gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the purchase of eight new F-16 fighters in a bid to replace its aging Soviet-built jets and bring its air force in line with NATO standards. (Khalid Mohammed / AP)
n this Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 photo, an Iraqi army soldier stand guard near a U.S.- made Iraqi Air Force F-16 fighter jet at the Balad Air Base, Iraq. Bulgaria’s government gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the purchase of eight new F-16 fighters in a bid to replace its aging Soviet-built jets and bring its air force in line with NATO standards. (Khalid Mohammed / AP)
Associated Press

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Bulgaria’s government gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the purchase of eight new F-16 fighters in a bid to replace its aging Soviet-built jets and bring its air force in line with NATO standards.

The decision for the biggest military purchase in post-Communist Bulgaria still needs parliamentary approval, but it is expected to get that easily given that the ruling coalition has a majority.

Once that happens, the defense minister will sign the contract for the purchase of eight multi-role F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft with the producer, Lockheed Martin.

Deputy defense minister Atanas Zapryanov told reporters that the $1.25 billion deal includes the aircraft, ammunition, equipment and pilot training, and that there is an option for the U.S. Congress to contribute $60 million. He said that six single-seat and two two-seat F-16s would be delivered by 2023.

U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin won the government-sponsored tender, outbidding Swedish SAAB Gripen fighters and second-hand Italian Eurofighter Typhoons.

Bulgaria, which joined NATO in 2004, has ever since sought to update its air fleet of Soviet-made Mig-29 jets, but has repeatedly been forced to postpone the decision due to financial problems.

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