After Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania are also turning to the F-16

If the United States and Lockheed-Martin have recorded many commercial successes in Europe and around the world in recent years with the F-35, while Austria, the Czech Republic and Spain are ready to join the 10 countries Europeans having already ordered the aircraft or entered into exclusive official negotiations with the United States on this subject, another American aircraft, designed in the early 70s, continues to be exported successfully: the F-16, too built by Lockheed-Martin. Thus, since 2018, the American single-engine fighter has been acquired by Morocco, Slovakia and Taiwan to the latest F-16V Block 70/72 standard equipped in particular with an EASA radar, while several countries, including Greece, have undertaken to modernize their fleets to this standard by acquiring upgrade kits. In recent days, it was Bulgaria's turn to announce its intention to order F-16Vs to replace its MIG-29s, while Romania announced the acquisition of 32 used F-16s from Norway. intended to evolve alongside 14 aircraft acquired from the United States in 2012, in order to withdraw its last MIG-21s from service.

For Sofia, this announcement concludes a controversial process initiated in 2013, when the country began consultations to acquire used F-16s from several historical operators of the American aircraft, such as Belgium and the Netherlands. In 2016, however, political instability in the country overcame this process, and new negotiations were initiated with other partners, including an attempt to acquire Typhoon and second-hand F-16s, but also the Swedish Gripen. In 2017, negotiations around the Swedish Gripen continued, while Boeing proposed its Super-Hornet, and the Bulgarian parliament approved a budget of €1,3 billion to finance the acquisition of combat aircraft to replace its Mig-29 , but also new naval patrol boats.

mig 29 BUlgaria Analyzes Defense | Fighter jets | Bulgaria
the Bulgarian Air Force still aligns a dozen Mig-29s and 7 Su-25s

Eventually, in 2018, Sofia announced its decision to acquire 8 F-16Vs from Washington, ending all further negotiations. However, this was not the end of this rebounding file, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, himself a former fighter pilot, vetoed the acquisition of the 8 F-16s in July 2019, judging the budgetary envelope excessive for the country whose GDP peaked at $57 billion. Some months later, this one tried to get closer to the South Korean KAI to acquire the light fighter FA-50 Golden Eagle instead of the F-16, the device being 3 times cheaper to buy than the American hunter. Finally, on November 3, faced with the recomposition of the threat in Eastern Europe, the Bulgarian political dissensions were erased, and the parliament endorsed by an overwhelming majority (162 votes for, 49 against and 11 abstentions) the order of 8 F-16V, with ammunition and spare parts, for a total amount of $1,3 billion, the aircraft to be delivered from 2027.


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