Jun. 11, 2013 - By JAROSLAW ADAMOWSKI - Defense News
WARSAW — Bulgarian Defense Minister Angel Naydenov has announced that the much-awaited acquisition of new jet fighters for the Air Force will likely not be launched this year, reported local news agency BTA.
In early May, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said his country needs to purchase nine or 10 fighter jets to modernize its Air Force. Currently, the service has Soviet-built MiG-21 and MiG-29 jets in its fighter fleet.
Local media have reported that the government was aiming to buy nine used Block 15 F-16s from the Portuguese Air Force. The planned purchase was estimated to be worth about Bulgarian 700 million (US $464 million).
Other alternatives reportedly analyzed by the Bulgarian military include the acquisition of new Gripen fighter jets from Saab and the purchase of secondhand Eurofighter Typhoons from the Italian Air Force.
Meanwhile, the government of neighboring Romania also has expressed interest in acquiring a number of F-16s from Portugal to replace its fleet of MiG-21 jets.
Naydenov was appointed defense minister May 29 in a coalition Cabinet formed by Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski from the Bulgarian Socialist Party.