Earlier in 2018, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) re-launched the procedure for acquisition of NATO-compatible combat aircraft, planning to add eight fighters to the nation’s air force by 2023.

On October 1, the MoD opened four offers from three different countries: the United States, Sweden and Italy. The Deputy Minister of Defence expressed gratitude to these countries and stated that the projects represent a historic moment in the modernisation and rearmament of Bulgarian military aviation.

Two offers came from the U.S. and present Bulgaria with the opportunity to acquire new Lockheed Martin F-16Vs or new Boeing F-18 Super Hornets. Sweden proposed new Saab Gripen jets and Italy suggested already in-use Eurofighters.

A workgroup appointed by the Prime Minister will begin analysing proposals on October 2, and will finish its work within 14 business days – 19 October 2018. This period may be extended if additional information is requested from the tenderers. Once its review is complete, the workgroup will make a summary proposal to the Minister of Defence, which later will be submitted to the Council of Ministers when making a final decision on the implementation of the project.

This tender is Bulgaria’s biggest military deal to date, estimated at 1.8 billion levs (EUR 920 m) and follows the 2014 NATO summit in Wales where Bulgaria undertook to raise its military spending to 2.0% of the country’s GDP from an estimated 1.27% in 2017.