WARSAW, Poland — Bulgaria will request an offer from Boeing for its F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft as the country aims to select a new fighter jet by the end of July 2018, according to the country’s defense minister.

Krasimir Karakachanov told state-run radio broadcaster BNR that the Ministry of Defence is seeking the offer in addition to the three main competitors for the deal — Lockheed Martin’s F-16, Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon. He said requests for proposals are expected to be sent to manufacturers this month.

Interest in the Super Hornet indicates that a new major competitor could join the Bulgarian tender, under which the country is aiming to replace its Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft with Western-made fighters. The planned contract is estimated to be worth some 1.5 billion levs (U.S. $890.9 million).

In late October, Karakachanov said the ministry will relaunch its tender to purchase eight aircraft after a special committee of the Bulgarian parliament released a report calling on the Cabinet to relaunch the tender. The move scrapped the recommendation of a ministerial expert group that ranked the Gripen as its top choice.

Following this, Bulgaria was to request new proposals from Portugal, which offered secondhand F-16s, and from Italy, which offered its Eurofighter Typhoons. Should the ministry decide to select the Super Hornet, the country would become the aircraft’s first operator in Eastern Europe.