Bulgaria to restart its fighter aircraft acquisition project


The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to re-launch the procedure for acquisition of combat aircraft, planning to add eight fighters to the nation’s air force by 2023.

This investment project, which is called the Acquisition of a New Type Combat Aircraft (ANTCA), is one of the main priorities of the Bulgarian Air Force, and will be conducted in line with the parliament-approved Programme for the Development of the Defence Capabilities of the Bulgarian Armed Forces.

Underscoring the government’s commitment to ANTCA, the project was also listed in an official document issued in April, outlining the MoD’s main objectives.

The initial short list for the acquisition during the first procedure included the Swedish JAS Gripens, used Italian Eurofighter Thypoons, and F-16s that had been in service in the US and later Portugal.

In an effort to increase the options for possible acquisitions, the parliamentary committee overseeing ANTCA suggested that the National Assembly double the project’s budget to BGN 1.5 billion (EUR 767 million), which has resulted in the recent re-launch of the procedure.

MoD plans to acquire no less than eight aircraft with its new budget.

Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov reported that the previously shortlisted companies will be invited to participate in the procedure, and that US Boeing has expressed interest in competing with both its F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet models.

Other countries expressing interest in the procedure include France with its Dassault Rafale, and Germany with its Eurofighter Thypoons. Request for Proposals will also be made to Israel for its F-16 C/D Block 30 fighters, which are significantly more modern than the previously shortlisted aircraft.

Seven countries with at least eight offers are expected to take part in the procedure. Currently, the Parliamentary Committee for ANTCA is formulating the best method for evaluating all offers.

The government plans to acquire the new fighters by 2023.

For more information, please contact Kostadin Sirleshtov, Angel Bangachev and Diyan Georgiev.