Bulgaria votes for the Saab Gripen

The Bulgarian Government has announced the Saab JAS 39C Gripen is the preferred bidder in the country’s new combat aircraft competition. Bulgaria has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for purchasing eight multi-role fighters which should be delivered by 2020 at the latest. According to the government’s April 26 announcement, a selection board conducted detailed reviews of three submitted offers: used F-16MLUs supplied by the United States and Portugal, with a full logistic and weapons package supplied by the US; new Saab JAS 39C Gripens; and used Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoons supplied by Italy. Bulgaria’s RFP required the fighters to be supplied through a government-togovernment agreement.

Bulgaria’s Defence Minister, Stephan Yanev, revealed the Swedish proposal for the JAS 39C Gripen has been ranked in the first place followed by the combined US-Portuguese F-16 proposal, with the Italian Eurofighter proposal in third place. Details about other proposals have been disclosed by Yanev.

Sources in Sofia, however, have hinted the Swedish offer proved to be very competitive thanks to its affordable price, falling within the BGN 1 billion budget, while the used F-16s have been offered at BGN 1.5 billion.

Furthermore, the Swedish proposal provides for rapid deliveries, to be completed within 18 months, supported by a deferred payment scheme in order to relieve the burden on Bulgaria’s moderate defence budget. There are no official announcements from Saab or the other fighter suppliers in the tender.

At this stage, the selection process pursued by the Bulgarian Government requires it to grant a mandate to the minister of defence to begin negotiations with the preferred bidder and enter into a government-to-government purchase agreement. Then the agreement has to be ratified by both the Bulgarian Government and Parliament.