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Bulgaria approved for additional F-16s

Bulgaria is set to receive an initial eight F-16C Block 70 aircraft, analogous to the US Air Force M7 standard pictured, with approval for a further four F-16C Block 70 and four F-16D Block 70 aircraft announced on 4 April. (US Air Force)

Bulgaria has been approved to buy a further eight Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the United States, bringing their total to 16.

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.

โ€œThe proposed sale will improve Bulgaria's capability to meet current and future threats by enabling the Bulgarian Air Force (BuAF) to deploy modern fighter aircraft routinely in the Black Sea region,โ€ the DSCA said. โ€œThe acquisition of these aircraft would provide Bulgaria a NATO interoperable platform and allow the BuAF to operate more frequently alongside other regional F-16 operators, promoting common doctrine and operations.โ€

As noted by the DSCA, the State Department approval covers the aircraft, related equipment, weapons, training, and support for an estimated USD1.673 billion.

News of the approval came approximately three years after Bulgaria was cleared to buy its initial eight F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft in June 2019 (while the approval noted Block 70/72, the General Electric F110 engines indicated them to be Block 70 rather than the Pratt & Whitney F100-powered Block 72). Although not disclosed in the original DCSA notification, the initial batch was for eight F-16C single-seaters, with pilot training taking place in the US on two gifted Excess Defense Article F-16Ds (the Block has not been disclosed, but will not be newbuild Block 70s). In total, Bulgaria is now approved for 12 F-16Cs and four F-16Ds.

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