SOFIA, April 26 (Reuters) - Bulgaria has decided to start talks with Sweden to acquire eight new Gripen combat jets made by SAAB, interim deputy prime minister Stefan Yanev said on Wednesday.
The Balkan country has picked the Swedish offer ahead of offers to buy secondhand U.S. F-16s from Portugal, equipped with U.S. weaponry, and secondhand Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from Italy.
A deal is estimated to be worth about 1.5 billion levs ($836 million).
A special commission for the negotiations is expected to be set up within a week, Yanev said. The talks with Sweden will be held by Bulgaria's next government, which is expected to take office next week. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Greg Mahlich)