Radev said the important issue here is not the aircraft but the inclusion of additional components including armaments, ground equipment and the training of personnel. The head of state urged the government not to cut funding for the package.
“I expect the government to guarantee that the combat capabilities we have declared will not be cut down and I hope that the Bulgarian taxpayers will not give their money for chaos”, the president said.
Moreover, Radev said that he is yet to receive a fresh proposal from the United States.
“At any moment I am expecting the parameters of the proposal from the American side”, he said.
The draft agreement on the acquisition of US jet fighters by Bulgaria was received earlier, but no information regarding the price and other points of the transaction have yet been disclosed.
Previously, the United States named a sum of nearly $1.7 billion (2.9 billion leva) as the ceiling price. Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov said that the maximum that Bulgaria is ready to allocate for aircraft is 2 billion leva (just over $1.1 billion). Moreover, the country insists on paying in installments, so as not to jeopardise the implementation of other projects to modernise the army.
The head of the ministry calls himself an optimist in the matter of purchasing American jet fighters, but admitted that negotiations might fail, and has estimated this probability at 25%.
In December, after considering proposals from the United States, Sweden, and Italy, Bulgaria chose the American F-16. However, President Radev has sharply criticised the selection procedure and called it a "triumph of lobbying" and a “game of democracy”.
Sweden's Ambassador to Bulgaria Louise Bergholm previously said that the Gripen proposal was still standing. The diplomat also recalled that the cost of Swedish fighters is within the framework of the budget approved by Bulgaria. Additionally, Sweden offered a flexible payment system.