Visual Update: Bulgarian Delegation Tours F-16 Production Site in South CarolinaDefense | November 13, 2023, Monday // 17:06| views
In a significant milestone for Bulgaria's military modernization, representatives from the Ministry of Defense and the Bulgarian Air Force recently undertook a comprehensive tour of the Lockheed Martin plant in Greenville, South Carolina. The purpose of the visit was to witness firsthand the advanced stages of assembly for the F-16 Block 70 fighters destined for Bulgaria.
At present, six of these cutting-edge aircraft are in various phases of production, aligning with the agreed-upon schedule. Notably, the initial duo, comprising an F-16C Block 70 and an F-16D Block 70, is anticipated to reach completion by late July 2024. These two aircraft will play a crucial role in the engineering training composition of the United States Air Force.
The Bulgarian delegation's visit allowed them to observe the production line and gain insights into the meticulous processes involved. Additionally, they had the opportunity to witness a flight demonstration of the F-16C Block 70 designated for Slovakia, adding a layer of international collaboration to the experience.
As part of Bulgaria's broader defense strategy, the delivery of the initial fighters to the country is slated for the end of March 2025. This marks a pivotal moment as Bulgaria continues to bolster its air capabilities, ensuring a robust defense posture in alignment with evolving geopolitical dynamics.
A noteworthy development in this context was the parliamentary approval, on November 4, 2022, for further investment in the acquisition of an additional eight F-16 Block 70 fighters. Notably, this decision received unanimous support from all parliamentary groups, with the exception of the pro-Russian BSP and "Vazrazhdane."
The approved project, requiring a substantial .296 billion or 2.54 billion BGN (excluding VAT), addresses the evolving security landscape in Europe. Beyond the aircraft's base cost, additional provisions have been made to cover customs duties, transportation expenses, and VAT. The anticipated delivery of these additional fighters is projected for the year 2027, emphasizing the Bulgarian government's commitment to fortifying the nation's defense capabilities.
This strategic move aligns with Bulgaria's commitment to maintaining a modern and effective air force, capable of responding to contemporary security challenges. The F-16 Block 70 fighters, renowned for their advanced capabilities and versatility, are set to play a pivotal role in Bulgaria's defense architecture for years to come.
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