Bulgaria Picks U.S. for Talks on Planned $1 Billion Defense Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Bulgaria is preparing to start exclusive talks with the U.S. to purchase F-16 fighter jets in a 1.8 billion-lev ($1 billion) defense tender that could be the Balkan country’s biggest military deal since the Cold War.

The Defense Ministry picked the aircraft to replace its outdated Soviet fleet as the U.S. urges NATO members to meet the alliance’s defense spending goals. The ministry also considered offers from Italy for Eurofighter Typhoons and from Sweden for Saab AB Gripen fighters, Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov told reporters in Sofia. Before starting talks on price and conditions, parliamentary approval is required.

In 2016, the previous interim cabinet accepted a Swedish offer for new Saab AB fighters, followed by bids from Italy for used Eurofighter Typhoons and from Portugal for used F-16 jets. The tender was canceled after Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s government took office.

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