Bulgaria has approved a further eight F-16 Block 70s, which are analogous to the M7 standard as flown by the US Air Force (pictured). It will field 16 such aircraft by the time deliveries are complete. (US Air Force)
Bulgaria has approved funding for additional Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft that were cleared for sale by the United States earlier in 2022.
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-16C/D Block 70 aircraft to bring the Bulgarian Air Force's (BuAF's) proposed fleet up to 16.
“Air-to-surface [and] air-to-air strike capabilities are also included in the project. We will have a full squadron of 16 aircraft. It is expected that the planes will arrive in 2027,” Stoyanov was quoted by the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) as saying.
News of the Bulgarian government's decision came approximately six months after the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced the approval of four single-seat F-16C Block 70 and four twin-seat F-16D Block 70 aircraft on 4 April. This approval came approximately three years after Bulgaria was cleared to buy its initial eight F-16C Block 70 aircraft in June 2019, with pilot training taking place in the US on two gifted Excess Defense Article F-16Ds.
As the most up-to-date version of the Fighting Falcon, the F-16 Block 70/72 (F-16V in its remanufactured guise) features the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array radar (derived from the F-16E/F Block 60 AN/APG-80 and also known as the Scalable Agile Beam Radar), a new Raytheon mission computer, the Link 16 datalink, modern cockpit displays, an enhanced electronic warfare system, and a ground-collision avoidance system.