SOFIA, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Bulgaria has sent a request to four European countries for proposals for 150 armoured vehicles, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.
The Balkan state, which joined NATO in 2004, has called for bids in a 1.46 billion levs ($836.24 million) tender from Germany, Finland, France and Switzerland, the ministry said in a statement.
Potential suppliers include Germany’s Artec, a joint venture of Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, France’s Nexter, Finland’s Patria and Swiss General Dynamics Land System- Mowag.
Sofia is asking manufacturers to provide bids by Oct. 31 as the Black Sea country plans to pick a winner by Dec. 20.
NATO has encouraged its eastern members to develop, buy and operate new alliance equipment.
Some eastern European NATO allies that were once Soviet satellites still rely on Russian-made military jets - two-thirds of Poland’s military equipment dates from the pre-1991 Soviet era, for example.
Bulgaria aims to raise its annual defence expenditure to two percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2024. ($1 = 1.7459 leva) (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Stephen Powell)