Borissov: New F-16s are evidence of our will to modernise the army

The government plans to develop its strategic partnership with US defence firm Lockheed Martin in the long run

The acquisition of the F-16 Block 70 jet fighters is more than a transaction, it is evidence of Bulgaria's wish to complete the modernisation of its armed forces with an eye to achieving real operational compatibility with the rest of the NATO member countries. This statement was made by PM Boyko Borissov at a meeting with representatives of the US defence company Lockheed Martin, from which Bulgaria bought the fighter aircraft for its army, the Council of Ministers announced. US Ambassador to Sofia, H.E. Herro Mustafa participated in the conversation as well.

The long-term cooperation that is being fostered thanks to the US-Bulgaria Industrial Partnership Programme was a focal point of the discussions. The cabinet reminded that in addition to the military aspects of the contracts signed, the cooperation also envisions the creation of industrial facilities needed to maintain and further develop the acquired equipment in the future.

“This is why we view the Framework Agreement signed with Lockheed Martin as a very useful instrument to be used in carrying out the industrial partnership concerning the F-16 Block 70, which will contribute towards long-term economic development and our country's improved competitiveness in that regard,” Borissov noted. He was adamant that, thanks to the terms agreed, novel-for-Bulgaria knowhow will be introduced to the country's security and defence industry.

The prime minister noted that the Bulgarian government has earmarked BGN 300m in funding to create the airport infrastructure that will house and provide technical support for the F-16 Block 70 aircrafts. The Ministry of Defence allocated the first BGN 100m back in August. The planned infrastructure will also be used by the existing fleet of the Bulgarian Air Force.

During the meeting, it was pointed out that the global pandemic that has been raging over the past few months negatively impacted the progress of the joint efforts of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Defence and Lockheed Martin, but that at this point in time the two public bodies are working on a joint task force to plan the effective realisation of activities under the Framework Agreement.

“The successful implementation of the projects laid out in the programme will yield not only technological and economic results, but political ones as well,” the prime minister said during the meeting. Borissov noted that, by investing in modern military equipment, Bulgaria will improve its security factor, which in turn will boost NATO capabilities.

“The government plans to further develop the strategic partnership with Lockheed Martin in the long run,” Borissov vowed during the meeting. Evidence of its determination in that regard are the request letters prepared and sent by the Ministry of Defence as part of its research into opportunities to acquire eight more F-16 Block 70, new three-coordinate radars, and secure maintenance of the Airspace Sovereignty Operational Centre and other high-tech equipment in the context of the modernisation projects of the Bulgarian Armed Forces.

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