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Bulgaria’s parliament OKs talks with US on F-16 jet deal

January 16, 2019 GMT

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s Parliament has approved a government plan to open talks with the United States on a deal for eight new F-16 fighter jets to replace its aging Russian MiG-29s and bring its air force in line with NATO standards.

Parliament on Wednesday approved the plan in a 130-84 vote after a long, heated debate. Supporters called it a strategic choice for the country, while opponents voiced fears that the jets would be too expensive.

The center-right government preferred the offer for F-16s over Sweden’s bid for new Gripens and Italy’s offer for second-hand Eurofighters.

Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov told parliament that unlike the Swedish and Italian offers the F-16 fighter jets do not need additional agreements for supplies of the necessary weaponry.