Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Bulgaria backpedals on Saab Gripen purchase, considers F-16 and Eurofighter

Bulgaria is considering the purchase of F-16s from Portugal or Eurofighter Typhoons from Italy. Here, Royal Netherlands Air Force F- 16 military fighter jets, top, and German Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets participate in an exercise in Lithuanian airspace. (Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)

 WARSAW, Poland — Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov has promised to relaunch a tender to acquire eight fighter jets. The country will request new offers from Portugal, which offered secondhand F-16s, and from Italy, which offered Eurofighter Typhoons.

This means the Bulgarian government will not proceed to purchase Sweden’s Saab JAS 39 Gripen aircraft despite previous announcements by the Defence Ministry.

In early October, a special committee of the Bulgarian parliament released a report calling on the Cabinet to relaunch the fighter tender despite the recommendation of a ministerial expert group that ranked the Gripen as the top choice.

“The three bids that have been submitted to date should allow all participants to offer not only secondhand aircraft, but also new ones,” Karakachanov told local broadcaster Bulgarian National Television in an interview. “I personally believe that if Bulgaria is to buy such aircraft, they should be new.”

The defense minister said he plans to file a new tender proposal to the country’s Council of Ministers by early November.

Bulgaria is aiming to replace its Air Force’s Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets with Western-made aircraft. The planned deal is estimated to be worth about 1.5 billion lev (U.S. $899.8 million).

Original post: defensenews.com

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