January 9, 2019 / 9:47 AM / 7 days ago

Bulgaria decides to start talks with U.S. on F-16 jet deal

SOFIA, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Bulgarian government has approved a plan to start talks with the United States on buying eight new F-16 fighter jets to replace its ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s and improve compliance with NATO standards, the defence minister said on Wednesday.

The decision still requires parliament's approval. The deal for Lockheed Martin's F-16V Block 70 would be worth around 1.8 billion levs ($1.06 billion), Bulgaria's biggest military procurement since the fall of Communist rule some 30 years ago..

Other bidders had included Sweden, with Saab's Gripen jets, and Italy, with second-hand Eurofighters. ($1 = 1.7057 leva) (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, writing by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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