Additional order of eight Bulgarian Air Force F-16 fighters approved
During the meeting of the Bulgarian governments on September 21, 2022, the purchase of a second batch of eight F-16 Block 70 multirole fighters for the Bulgarski Voenno Vzdushni Sili (BVVS, Bulgarian Air Force) was approved. This batch consists of four F-16C Block 70 and four F-16D Block 70 Fighting Falcons and also includes associated weapons.
Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov announced that the total value of this deal is $1.3 billion. He also pointed out that the planes of this second batch are expected to be delivered in 2027.
In April 2020, Lockheed Martin received an order for the first batch of eight F-16 fighters, six F-16C and two F-16D models. In total, the BVVS will receive ten F-16C and six F-16D fighters. First F-16 deliveries are expected in 2025 with Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2026.
After the arrival of the F-16, the infrastructure of the Graf Ignatievo air base will have to be rebuilt. On September 21, 2022, the command and staff of the Graf Ignatievo Air Force Base successfully carried out the transfer of all operational MiG-29s, maintenance and special equipment to Plovdiv Airport. The same evening, the first air policing mission was flown by MiG-29s. Two L-39s are also stationed at Plovdiv Airport for training purposes.
The MiG-29s are expected to be operational by mid-2023 and if Poland supplies RD-33 engines they will fly by the end of 2023. So it is very likely that the MiGs will never fly again from Graf Ignatievo due to the fact that the conversion will probably not be completed by then. A total amount of BGN 362 million has been reserved for the renovation of the Graf Ignatievo Air Force Base, which began immediately after the relocation.
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