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Bulgaria buys eight F-16 jets from US

U.S. Air Force Capt. Joe Swinson, a pilot with the 14th Fighter Squadron, flies in an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft alongside his wingman during a large-scale air defense and strike mission exercise at COPE Tiger 19 in Thailand, March 14, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Bulgaria is purchasing eight U.S.-made F-16 multirole fighter jets, munitions and related equipment, the State Department said in a statement on July 30.

“We salute [Bulgarian] Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the Bulgarian government on its commitment to modernize its military through the acquisition of these highly capable, NATO interoperable aircraft,” State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said.

The estimated cost of the aircraft is $1.67 billion, making it Bulgaria’s biggest military procurement since the fall of communism, a news release by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated.

Bulgaria currently relies on the United States and Britain to participate in joint air policing.

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Sofia joined NATO in 2004 and has had a defense cooperation agreement with the United States since 2006.

Based on the agreement, the United States may deploy defense equipment and no more than 2,500 personnel to its four military bases in Bulgaria.