Bulgarian President Roumen Radev vetoed the purchase of 8 F-16V fighter jets that the Parliament had approved last week. Radev estimated that the price of the acquisition, $1.256 billion, was too high.
With tensions rising in the Black Sea, Bulgaria has been in dire need of new fighter jets. The current fleet of MiG-29 is more than aged and its maintenance weighs heavily on the budget of the Bulgarian Air Force.
Initially, Bulgaria considered the offer of Saab and its ten JAS-39 Gripen but eventually dismissed it, arguing that the contract for the Swedish fighter would not include all the necessary equipment to fulfill its missions.
After launching a tender, it finally settled for eight of the latest version of Lockheed Martin F-16, the Block 70 also known as the “Viper”. On July 19, 2019, the Bulgarian Parliament agreed on what would be the largest acquisition made by the country in over 30 years. To do so, it will have to widen the budget deficit by 1.6% of GDP.
However, on July 23, 2019, Bulgarian President decided to veto the parliamentary decision. The former fighter pilot argued that while “Bulgaria needs a multifunctional aircraft, which is achieved not only by its qualities but also by a full package of equipment, accompanying equipment, and personnel training,” the decision of choosing the F-16V was made “on the fast track”, as reported by the Sofia Globe.
The veto of President Radev should not have any consequences on the acquisition except oblige Parliament to ratify the law regarding the contract a second time