The US government has awarded Lockheed Martin $512 million to produce eight F-16 Block 70 fighters for Bulgarian Air Force (Voennovazdushni sili).
This contract provides for the production of eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft to replace the ageing fleet of Bulgarian MiG-29s. The work will take place in Fort Worth, Texas and at Lockheed’s new F-16 line in Greenville, South Carolina. The project is expected to be completed by 31 January 2027, says the US Department of Defense in a contract announcement.
Bulgarian approved the deal in July 2019. The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) package includes six single-seat aircraft and a pair of two-seat aircraft. With the first F-16V set to enter service in 2023, the Bulgarian Air Force will be in a position to retire its ageing MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ fighters, only about four of which are believed to still be serviceable. The original FMS deal, announced in June 2019, totals $1.67 billion. In addition to the eight fighters, it also includes a broad range of sensors, weapons, training devices, software, training, support, and spares.
The Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 features the most advanced 4th generation fighter aircraft capabilities in NATO’s inventory today. The Block 70 is ideally suited for Bulgaria’s national defence and will ensure the Bulgarian Air Force operates the most advanced 4th generation fighter available today. The F-16 Block 70 features technologies developed for the 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fighters yet provides a proven, capable, low-risk and cost effective solution for Bulgaria’s national and NATO defense needs.
The comprehensive F-16 Block 70 package for Bulgaria includes training for pilots and ground crew, logistics, support equipment and weapons for all operational needs, meaning there are absolutely no hidden costs. This means Bulgaria will not need to acquire any items such as weaponry under separate contracts with third parties or to seek permissions or licenses from governments for weapons integration and use, all of which incurs additional cost and uncertainty.