14:06 GMT +315 December 2019
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    Two F-16 Fighting Falcons pilots with the 8th Fighter Wing's 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea

    US Set to Work With Bulgaria on F-16 Project After Sale of 8 Fighter Jets - State Dept

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States looks forward to working with Bulgaria on the F-16 projects following Sofia's decision to buy eight fighter aircraft and the required equipment and munitions, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

    "The United States welcomes the Bulgarian Government’s decision to purchase eight F-16 multirole fighter aircraft, munitions and related equipment", Ortagus said on Tuesday.

    "We salute Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the Bulgarian Government on its commitment to modernize its military through the acquisition of these highly capable, NATO interoperable aircraft. We look forward to working with Bulgaria on this project and to enhancing our long-term strategic partnership".

    Ortagus added that the State Department appreciates the US Congress' role in supporting the use of Foreign Military Financing for a portion of this acquisition.

    The contract for Bulgaria's $1.26 billion deal to purchase eight new F-16 fighter jets and supporting equipment went into effect on Tuesday following its publication in the Bulgarian State Gazette.

    The fact the deal has been promulgated is significant because Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, who last week vetoed the purchase, saying the lack of consensus on the deal was "worrying", no longer can amend the national budget, into which the purchase has already been included.

    The national parliament overturned the presidential veto on Friday.

    The F-16 deal is Bulgaria's biggest military purchase since the fall of communism three decades ago.

    According to the Bulgarian National Radio, the first F-16 will arrive by mid-2023, followed by four more by the end of that year. The rest will arrive in 2024.


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