Bulgaria’s president asks Biden to expedite delayed delivery of F-16s

Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said on March 24 he had asked US President Joe Biden to expedite the delayed delivery of F-16 fighter jets or to explore the option of leasing “used” fighter jets.

Radev raised the matter with Biden while both were attending a special NATO summit called to discuss measures in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Under a previous government, Bulgaria paid for eight F-16s in full, but delivery has been delayed for reasons including production disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Radev said that if the US option doesn’t work, Bulgaria can seek help from its European partners.

He said he raised the issue of leasing F-16s or European-made fighter jets with leaders from the Netherlands, France and Italy.

According to Radev, there was complete agreement between him and the Bulgarian government on this matter.

Due to the delay in F-16 delivery, Bulgaria would not have an operational squadron until 2030.

Until then, a solution must be found to ensure anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenses on Bulgarian territory, which was part of Bulgaria’s commitment to NATO.

The search for options to service the Bulgarian Air Force’s existing Soviet MiG-29s will continue, Radev said.

“Of course, Russia is definitely out of the question in the context of increasing escalation.

“Next week I hope to have an agreed group to explore the capabilities of Polish industry and the Polish Air Force, but this is a temporary solution and we need it. a sustainable solution,” said Radev.

At the NATO summit, the alliance leaders agreed on the facility four additional multinational battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, the alliance said in a statement.

About 900 NATO allied military personnel, including 150 from Britain, are expected to be stationed in Bulgaria. The combat group in Bulgaria will consist mainly of Bulgarian military personnel.

According to Bulgarian National Radio, talks are also being held about involving Italian military personnel.

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