WARSAW, Poland — Bulgaria may walk away from negotiations with the U.S. for the purchase of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 fighter jets, according to Bulgaria’s defense minister, instead turning to Sweden or Italy for new combat aircraft.

As part of Bulgaria’s tender to acquire eight new fighter jets for its military, Italy offered the Eurofighter Typhoon and Sweden offered the Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

The Bulgarian Air Force aims to replace its outdated Soviet-era Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets with Western-made aircraft.

Krasimir Karakachanov told local broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio that government authorities were not expecting to receive “anything for free [from the U.S.], but [to be offered aircraft] at normal prices, taking into account the prices offered to other countries, for example, Slovakia.”

Last year, the Slovak Cabinet signed a contract worth about €1.59 billion (U.S. $1.78 billion) to acquire 14 F-16 Block 70/72 fighters from the United States.

The minister did not disclose the value of the offer made by the American side. However, Bulgarian officials noted the acquisition is expected to be worth about 1.5 billion leva (U.S. $859 million).

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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