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Bulgaria’s biggest post-1989 arms spend widens deficit

Monday, August 5, 2019


Bulgaria’s F-16 purchase.


The F-16 contract is Bulgaria’s biggest defence overhaul since the Cold War, intended to replace its outdated Soviet-era military fleet and improve compatibility with NATO air forces. East European countries, including Bulgaria, are revamping their armed forces to meet NATO standards after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and criticism from US President Donald Trump that they are not spending enough on defence.


  • Central government debt is low at 19.8% of GDP at end-June and falling, and Bulgaria is at no risk of breaching the EU ceiling (60% of GDP).
  • With more than 700 F-16s flying in Europe, Bulgaria will benefit from acquiring an alliance-interoperable fighter.
  • Bulgaria will now be able to participate fully in such activities as peacekeeping operations with Western partners.
  • Aircraft for Slovakia and Bulgaria will be among the first to be built on the new F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina.

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