- The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 5, 2022

U.S. officials said Monday that a more than $1.6 billion deal to sell up to eight F-16 fighter jets to Bulgaria is not directly related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but could allow the NATO member to turn over its fleet of Russian-made MiG-29 jets to Kyiv.

The State Department said the proposed sale would improve Bulgaria‘s capability to meet “current and future threats” by enabling its air force to operate in the Black Sea region.

It also would provide Bulgaria with the means to operate more frequently alongside other regional F-16 operators, promoting common doctrine and operations, officials said.

Bulgaria has shown a commitment to modernizing its armed forces and will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft and services into its armed forces,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.

The proposed sale was in the works before the invasion of Ukraine, with a Department of Defense official saying it was not part of a plan to “backfill” Bulgaria‘s fighter jet fleet so it could transfer its MiG-29s to Ukraine.

The sale to Bulgaria would include munitions and support equipment such as extra engines, radar arrays and navigation systems.

“There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale,” the DSCA said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.