Bulgaria has approved funding for additional Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon aircrafts that were cleared for sale by the United States earlier in 2022. The US Defense Department approved the sale of eight F-16 combat aircraft to Bulgaria for $1.67 billion, bolstering its air force as the regional threat has risen after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The interim Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov announced on 21 September that a total of USD1.3 billion is to be spent on the eight additional F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft to bring the Bulgarian Air Force’s (BuAF’s) proposed fleet up to 16. The Bulgarian Air Force is seeking to replace its aging fleet of Soviet Mig-29s. The country bought its first batch of eight F-16s in 2019, expecting the first delivery in 2025.
The proposed sale will contribute to Bulgaria’s capability to provide for the defense of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the United States and NATO. These aircraft will provide Bulgaria with a fleet of modernized multi-role combat aircraft, ensuring that Bulgaria can effectively operate in hazardous areas and enhancing the Bulgarian Air Force’s interoperability with U.S. as well as NATO forces. Bulgaria currently relies on the United States and the United Kingdom to participate in joint air policing. By acquiring these F-16s and the associated sustainment and training package, Bulgaria will be able to provide for the defense of its own airspace and borders. Acquiring the F-16 Fighting Falcon will also improve its compliance with NATO standards.
The Government of Bulgaria has requested to buy eight (8) F-16 C/D Block 70/72 aircraft; ten (10) F110 General Electric engines (includes 2 spares); ten (10) Link-16 Multi-Functional Information Distribution System (MIDS) – JTRS (MIDS-JTRS) (includes 2 spares); nine (9) Improved Program Display Generators (iPDG) (includes 1 spare); nine (9) AN/APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radars (includes 1 spare); four (4) AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER Targeting Pods; nine (9) Modular Mission Computers (MMC) 7000AH (includes 1 spare); nine (9) LN-260 Embedded GPS/INS (EGI); nine (9) M61 Vulcan 20mm Cannons; sixteen (16) AIM-120C7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs); one AIM-120C7 Spare Guidance Section; twenty-four (24) AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles; eight (8) AIM-9X Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM); four (4) AIM-9X Spare Tactical Guidance Sections; four (4) AIM-9X Spare CATM Guidance Sections; forty-eight (48) LAU-129 Multi-Purpose Launchers; fifteen (15) GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II Kits; fifteen (15) GBU-54 Laser JDAM Kits; twenty-eight (28) GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB-1); twenty-four (24) FMU-152 Fuzes; twenty-four (24) MK-82 Bombs (Tritonal); six (6) MK82 Bombs (Inert); and thirteen (13) MAU-210 Enhanced Computer Control Group (ECCG).