Delivery of Bulgarian F-16s to be delayed

by Aleksandar Mladenov & Gareth Jennings

Bulgaria is set to receive eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft, analogous to the US Air Force M7 standard pictured, with a request for a further eight. The country has been told to expect a delay in its deliveries due to supplier and Covid problems. (US Air Force)

Delivery of the eight Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft for the Bulgarian Air Force is to be delayed by ‘several months' due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bulgarian Defence Minister Stefan Yanev announced the news during a hearing in front of the Defence Committee of the Bulgarian Parliament on 25 January.

Yanev said he had received information from the manufacturer citing delays in the supply chain that would affect all customers of the newly-produced F-16s. He said he expected the delay to be measured in months, but then added that the exact length would be known in the second half of February, when a US delegation is set to arrive in Sofia to discuss the Bulgarian programme.


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BAE developing augmented reality for Hawk

by Gareth Jennings

The Hawk is set to receive augmented reality technology, under an MOU signed by BAE Systems and Red 6. (BAE Systems)

BAE Systems is developing augmented reality (AR) to enhance the training value of its Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT), the company announced on 30 November.

For the project, BAE Systems has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Red 6, an AR technology firm specialising in synthetic air combat training.

“BAE Systems will collaborate with Red 6 to explore the integration of the Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality Systems (ATARS) onto the Hawk,” the announcement said. “This will enable pilots to identify, engage, and defeat virtual threats and co-operate with virtual wingmen whilst airborne.”

As said by BAE Systems, the collaboration will explore ways to combine its experience in delivering training to military forces alongside its expertise with Striker helmet-mounted displays used on Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen combat aircraft, with Red 6's ATARS technology.


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Update: Royal Australian Navy to acquire Bluebottle USVs

by Julian Kerr & Oishee Majumdar

When deployed, the solar sail of the Bluebottle (pictured) harnesses both solar and wind energy. In headwinds or winds more than 25 kt, the solar sail automatically folds onto the deck of the USV. (Ocius)

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is acquiring five Bluebottle unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to enhance its ability to experiment and advance the operational employment of uncrewed systems under, on, and above the water.

Disclosing a AUD4.9 million (USD3.3 million) contract with Sydney-based Ocius Technologies, Rear Admiral Peter Quinn, head of the Navy Capability in the RAN, said on 25 November that this represented a significant investment in sovereign industry capability to advance the ability of the RAN to effectively employ robotic and autonomous systems.

“We have vast areas that we need to patrol, which we can't do with a small number of crewed ships. We have to and will be investing in uncrewed platforms that will be out there persistently conducting surveillance,'' he said.

The 22 ft solar, wind, and wave-powered vessels would be used in developing new uncrewed underwater systems technology, and as testbeds for above-water and low-water surveillance, he said.

Ocius CEO Robert Dane told Janes


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Bulgaria signs LOA for follow-on F-16s

by Gareth Jennings

Having contracted an initial eight F-16s, Bulgaria has now signed an LOA for the same number again. (US Air Force)

Bulgaria has signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for additional Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft that were cleared for sale by the United States earlier in 2022.

The manufacturer announced the development on 28 November, noting that this second batch of F-16C/D Block 70s will extend Bulgaria's future fleet to 16 aircraft once deliveries are complete.

Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov announced on 21 September that a total of USD1.3 billion is to be spent on the eight additional F-16s to equip the Bulgarian Air Force (BuAF) with a full squadron.

With F-16 deliveries expected to commence in 2027, the BuAF is seeking an interim fighter from either France (Dassault Mirage 2000 or Rafale) or Sweden (Saab Gripen) to bridge the gap with the retirement of the MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum' in 2023.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/defence/latest/delivery-of-bulgarian-f-16s-to-be-delayed

Delivery of the eight Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft for the Bulgaria...

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