December 17, 2018
SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State expressed hope that the Bulgarian Air Force will operate the F-16 to protect the Bulgarian people, stressing that this concerns the national security. This, John Sullivan pointed out in an interview with BTV given during his official visit to Bulgaria. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State is on a diplomatic tour, visiting five countries of Central Europe and the Western Balkans, including our, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
In the interview, he expressed his belief that F-16 Block 70 is the most advanced and modern weapon system, as well as, the most suitable for Bulgaria’s defence and Bulgaria’s participation in the mutual engagements, along with the other NATO allies. According to him: “Gripen fighter cannot be compared to F-16. It is as if to compare apples to oranges. The F-16 is a weapon system proven in battles and used in NATO countries, in Greece, in Romania, as well as, by non–NATO nations – like Israel. There is a reason for these countries to opt for the F-16.”
In his words, the offer made by the U.S. and Lochkeed Martin to Bulgaria uses advanced technology that is simply not available for Gripen. It is not fair to make a comparison, based on the number of fighters that will be delivered, to compare 8 to 10, said further the American politician. “The eight F-16s are remarkable weapon systems that have proven themselves over and over again.” However, John Sullivan stressed that the final decision on what is right for the Bulgarian national security, is in the hand of the Bulgarian government and people.
The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State noted that the U.S. had invested nearly $300 million in recent years, a $100 million investment in the Bulgarian Air Force in order the F-16 to enter service with the Bulgarian Army easily and fast, in a way that Gripen could not.
During his visitation to Bulgaria, starting on December 14, John Sullivan held meetings with Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov, as well as with Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva. “The purpose of my visit to Bulgaria was to reaffirm our alliance relations and to consolidate our bilateral ties.” John Sullivan told BTV.
In his talks with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister once again assured that our country strictly fulfills its commitments to NATO and reaffirmed the increase in defence expenditures of 2% of GDP by 2024, as well as, the allocation of additional funds for arms and equipment. While with the Bulgarian Defene Minister Krasimir Karakachanov, the U.S. politician discussed the regional security.
The issue for the modernization of the Bulgarian Army and the Air Force was also seriously discussed during the bilateral meeting between the Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva and John Sullivan, held on 14 December. It was also attended by Deputy Minister of Defence Atanas Zapryanov, who is the head of the political-military group that considers and evaluates the offers for a new type of combat aircraft. Speaking on this topic, Ekaterina Zakharieva said: “Of course, we as a government are in no way willing to influence the expert committee that will take the decision. We hope that they will really choose the aircraft that will best protect the Bulgarian interest and will increase Bulgaria’s capabilities in NATO.”