WARSAW, Poland — Bulgaria‘s Ministry of Defence will submit its proposals to procure new fighter jets and armored vehicles to the Council of Ministers this March, according to Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov.

The minister told public broadcaster BNT that Bulgaria will seek offers “for new and secondhand aircraft” to “find the best prices and the best options.”

In November, Karakachanov said the ministry aimed to request offers from a number of aircraft manufacturers. The considered fighter jets were to include Lockheed Martin’s F-16, Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The aircraft are to replace Bulgaria’s Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft with Western-made fighters. The deal is expected to be worth about 1.5 billion leva (U.S. $946 million).

Karakachanov says the ministry aims to spend 20 percent of the country’s military expenditure on new weapons and equipment for the Bulgarian Armed Forces. By 2024, Sofia is to raise its annual defense expenditure to 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the minister.

Under the plan, the new wheeled vehicles are to replace Bulgaria’s Soviet-made BTR-60 armored personnel carriers.

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Prioritize NATO’s core task: collective defense
The risk of conflict by miscalculation or by escalation of an incident is greater today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. NATO’s deterrent posture needs to be strengthened in both the Baltic and Black Sea area to reduce this risk.