“The acquisition of the F-16 Block 70 aircraft is not just a purchase, but an expression of Bulgaria’s desire for irreversible modernization of its armed forces in order to achieve real interoperability with other NATO member states.” This was stated by the Prime Minister Boyko Borissov at a meeting with representatives of the American company Lockheed Martin, from which Bulgaria bought fighter jets for the needs of its defense.
The US Ambassador to Bulgaria Hero Mustafa also took part in the conversation.
The focus of the meeting was the long-term cooperation, which is realized thanks to the Industrial Partnership Program between Bulgaria and the United States. In addition to the purely military dimensions of the signed contracts, the partnership envisages the creation of industrial capacity for maintenance and development of acquired capabilities in the future.
“Therefore, we consider the Framework Agreement signed with Lockheed Martin as a very useful tool for the implementation of industrial cooperation under the F-16 Block 70, which will contribute to long-term economic development and competitiveness of our country in this area,” said the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
He was adamant that thanks to the agreements, the country’s unique know-how will be implemented in the Bulgarian industry, which develops activities in the field of security and defense.
The Prime Minister Boyko Borissov noted that the Bulgarian government provided funding in the amount of BGN 300 million for the preparation of the airport infrastructure for the deployment and maintenance of F-16 Block 70 aircraft. The first 100 million BGN were allocated from the budget of the Ministry of Defense in August this year, and the planned infrastructure will be used by the existing fighter jets in the Air Force.
During the conversation, it was pointed out that the epidemic situation in recent months has affected the progress of the joint activities of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Defense and Lockheed Martin. However, the two Bulgarian agencies are currently preparing to set up a joint working group to plan the effective implementation of the activities under the Framework Agreement.
“Apart from the purely technological and economic aspect, the successful implementation of the projects of the program also has a great political charge,” added Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
He pointed out that with investments in modern military equipment Bulgaria becomes even more secure, which increases the capabilities of the Alliance.
“The government plans to develop the strategic partnership with Lockheed Martin in the long run,” Prime Minister Borissov said during the meeting. An expression of this desire are the letters-applications prepared and sent by the Ministry of Defense, related to the study of possibilities for acquiring 8 more F-16 Block 70 aircraft, new three-coordinate radars, support of the Air Sovereignty Operations Center and other high-tech equipment in the context of the projects for modernization of the Armed Forces of Bulgaria.