Bulgaria is on the brink of unveiling its F-16 Block 70 fleet as government officials and military leaders inspect the ongoing production at Lockheed Martin‘s Greenville facility.
Lockheed Martin’s F-16 production facility in Greenville became a focal point for Bulgarian defence leaders, as Minister of Defence Todor Tagarev, ambassador Georgi Panayotov, and defence chief Adm. Emil Eftimov toured the site last week. The visit aimed to provide insights into the production progress of Bulgaria’s future F-16 Block 70 fleet, with seven jets currently undergoing various stages of assembly.
The primary activity in the Bulgarian defence market is the replacement of its Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter aircraft and the eventual retirement of its Su-25 ground attack jets with a force of 16 of Lockheed Martin’s F-16V multirole fighter jets, according to GlobalData’s intelligence on the Bulgarian defence market.
According to OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager of the Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed Martin, Bulgaria’s acquisition of the F-16 Block 70 signifies a leap into advanced 21st-century security capabilities and NATO interoperability. With the inaugural flight of the first Bulgarian F-16 Block 70 scheduled for later this year, the country is set to become the second European nation to benefit from this fighter jet.
Lockheed Martin’s Greenville facility has a current backlog of 135 jets. Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 programme continues to impact globally, with several nations making strategic acquisitions. Bulgaria secured a $151.36m contract for eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft last year, marking the second European country to receive these fighters.
Simultaneously, the Philippines gained approval for a $2.43bn foreign military sale to acquire ten F-16C Block 70/72 aircraft. Jordan joined the F-16 Block 70 programme with a letter of offer and acceptance for eight new production aircraft, reinforcing regional security. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin delivered the first two F-16 Block 70 jets to Slovakia. Bahrain secured a $1.12bn contract for 16 F-16 Block 70 aircraft in another development.
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The F-16 Block 70, touted as the most advanced in its class, is poised to enhance Bulgaria’s national defence, reinforcing the country’s position within the NATO alliance. As anticipation builds, Bulgaria inches closer to joining a group of nations equipped with this aircraft, elevating its capabilities on the international stage.