Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov has told reporters in Plovdiv how negotiations with the United States for the purchase of F-16s are progressing. While discussing the matter the minister was seen wearing a T-shirt with a Russian MiG-29 emblazoned on the front. These aircraft are currently in service with Bulgaria.
"I also have a T-shirt with the SU-25 since the base with our fighters is very close here. I didn't just happen to put on this T-shirt: at present Bulgaria has MiG-29s", the minister told reporters.
Karakachanov expressed the hope that the talks with the United States would succeed so that he would also have the opportunity to wear a T-shirt with an American fighter jet.
According to the minister, the negotiations are expected to come to a close by the end of June or a little earlier. Karakachanov said that the price for F-16s in no case should exceed 2 billion levs, as was originally proposed by the US. The minister also reiterated that Bulgaria is not willing to reduce the cost of aircraft at the expense of armaments, equipment, and training of pilots.
"The third very important issue is how we are going to pay. We are looking for options that will help us not to burden our budget with a 100% lump-sum", Karakachanov said.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, who previously led the country's Air Forces, said that it was difficult to talk about negotiations when the government and the parliament have "derailed the entire competitive basis" of choosing a new fighter and agreed that Bulgaria should pay for the aircraft "on vague conditions".