“The acquisition of F-16 Block 70 aircraft is more than a purchase; it is an expression of Bulgaria’s wish for the irreversible modernization of its armed forces in order to achieve real interoperability with the rest of the NATO member states.” This is what Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stated at a meeting with representatives of the US Lockheed Martin Corporation from which Bulgaria has bought fighter jets that it needs for its national defense. US Ambassador to Bulgaria Herro Mustafa attended the meeting.
The focus of the meeting was the long-term cooperation that is underway owing to the Bulgaria-US Industrial Partnership Program. In addition to the exclusively military dimensions of the contracts signed, the Partnership provides for building industrial capacity for the maintenance and development of the acquired capabilities in the future.
“Therefore, we see the Framework Agreement concluded with Lockheed Martin Corporation as a very useful tool for the implementation of F-16 Block 70-related industrial cooperation that will contribute to our country’s long-term economic development and competitiveness in this sector,” Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stressed. He was certain that the arrangements would enable the transfer of knowhow that is unique for the country, in the Bulgarian industry, which operates in the security and defense sector.
Prime Minister Borissov noted that the Bulgarian Government provided BGN 300 million to prepare the airfield infrastructure for the deployment and maintenance of F-16 Block 70 aircrafts. The first BGN 100 million were allocated under the Ministry of Defense budget in August 2020 while the planned infrastructure will be available to the Air Force existing fleet.
It was pointed out in the course of the discussion that the epidemic situation in recent months affected the progress of the joint action of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Defense and Lockheed Martin Corporation. However, currently the two Bulgarian ministries are preparing the establishment of a joint taskforce to be tasked with the planning of the efficient implementation of the activities under the Framework Agreement. „Projects under the program that are implemented successfully will have a large political dimension, in addition to the purely technological and economic aspect,” Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said further. He noted that investment in modern military equipment makes Bulgaria safer and, accordingly, increases the capabilities of the Alliance.
„The Government plans to develop strategic partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation on a long-term basis,” Prime Minister Borissov said at the meeting. An expression of this desire is the set of requests that the Ministry of Defense has written and sent and that explore possibilities for the acquisition of additional eight F-16 Block 70 aircrafts, new 3D radars, the maintenance of the Air Sovereignty Operations Center and other high-tech equipment in the context of the modernization projects for Bulgaria’s Armed Forces.