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Saab sweetens offer to supply Gripen fighter jets to Bulgaria

Author Mario Tanev
Saab sweetens offer to supply Gripen fighter jets to Bulgaria Author: SAAB/Licence: All rights reserved

SOFIA (Bulgaria), December 14 (SeeNews) - Sweden's Saab said on Friday that it submitted an improved offer for supply of new Gripen C/D fighter jets to Bulgaria, and is now proposing to deliver 10 jets instead of the initially proposed eight.

"The optimised offer meets all mandatory requirements set by Bulgaria, is within the limits of the set budget and the first jets will be delivered within 24 months after the contract has been signed," Saab said in a statement.

The new offer will significantly improve the operating capabilities of the Bulgarian Air Force, Saab noted.

In October, Saab offered to supply eight new Gripen C/D fighter jets equipped with the newest MS20 configuration to Bulgaria in response to the request for proposals received from the defence ministry in Sofia.

The Gripen Material System 20 (MS20) capability enhancement for Gripen C-series involves both hardware and software upgrades, providing improvements and new functionality both in terms of the aircraft itself and the ancillary support and training systems, according to the manufacturer.

Also in October, Bulgaria's defence ministry said that the US, Sweden and Italy have responded to Bulgaria's request for proposals for supply of up to 16 fighter jets to replace its ageing fleet of Russian-made combat aircraft. The US offered to supply new F-16 or F-18 jets, while Italy offered used Eurofighter aircraft.

In June, Bulgaria’s parliament approved a plan for the acquisition of NATO-compatible combat aircraft in two stages. The first stage envisages the purchase of no less than eight aircraft for an estimated total of some 1.8 billion levs ($1.1 billion/ 920.3 million euro).

NATO said earlier this year that it expects Bulgaria's defence spending to rise to 1.56% of the country's GDP in 2018, from an estimated 1.27% in 2017. Bulgaria's defence spending amounted to 1.26% of GDP in 2016. At the NATO summit in Wales in 2014, Bulgaria committed to a defence spending target of 2% of GDP, to be reached in the following 10 years.

(1 euro = 1.95583 levs)