COLOGNE, Germany — The U.S. State Department on Monday approved the Bulgarian government’s request to buy eight F-16 aircraft and an assortment of related equipment and weapons.
The government’s notice puts a price of $1.67 billion on the table for negotiations that are ongoing with the former Warsaw Pact country. The aircraft in question are of the F-16C/D Block 70/72 variety; the weapons include sidewinder missiles and several types of precision-guided and unguided bombs, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which brokers U.S. weapons sales.
The Bulgarian government last month was griping over the cost of the Lockheed Martin-made fighter jets, arguing Slovakia, for example, obtained a lower price. Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov told local media that his country could therefore turn to Sweden for the Saab Gripen or the Eurofighter offered by Italy to replace its Soviet-era MiG-29 fleet.
Officials sounded more optimistic about the proposed U.S. deal on Tuesday, with Reuters citing a Defence Ministry statement that characterizes the figure as falling within the upper range of the expected cost.
“There is a two-week timeline in which the U.S. government will present to Bulgaria a draft Letter of Offer and Acceptance in which the expected price for the eight jets with a package of necessary related equipment will be within $1.2 billion,” the ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.