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SOFIA (Bulgaria), June 4 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's defence ministry said that it expects to receive a letter of agreement (LOA) from the U.S. for the purchase of eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets for some $1.2 billion (1.1 billion euro) within the next two weeks.
After Bulgaria receives the LOA, the negotiations will continue, the defence ministry said in a statement on Monday.
On Monday, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible sale of F-16C/D Block 70/72 aircraft with support for an estimated cost of $1.673 billion.
"The proposed sale will contribute to Bulgaria's capability to provide for the defense of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the United States and NATO," the agency said in a statement.
Initially, the maximum value of Bulgaria's project for the purchase of new jets was set at 1.8 billion levs ($1.0 billion/920 million euro). However, the parliament later adopted a decision allowing this price to be exceeded.
Last month, Bulgaria's defence minister Krasimir Karakachanov said the government may ask parliament to start negotiations with Sweden or Italy for the procurement of fighter jets if the ongoing talks with the U.S. fell through.
"Part of the offers regarding the price are unsatisfactory, that is why we continue the talks. We must take into account the price, the package of services and the payment deadlines," Karakachanov said at the time, speaking on public radio BNR.
Last year, Bulgaria's request for proposals for delivery of up to 16 jets to replace the ageing fleet of Russian-made combat aircraft attracted offers from the U.S., Sweden and Italy. The U.S. offered to supply new F-16 or F-18 jets, Saab offered to supply new Gripen C/D fighters, while Italy offered used Eurofighter aircraft.
($ = 0.8875 euro)