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Delivery of F-16s to Bulgaria delayed due to supply chain disruptions

February 17, 2022 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The delivery of F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. to Bulgaria is expected to be delayed by at least two years, prime minister Kiril Petkov said. The first F-16 fighter jets are expected to arrive in Bulgaria no earlier than 2025.

Members of the 31st FW and the Bulgarian air force pose for a group photo in front of an American F-16 and a Bulgarian MiG-21 and MiG-29 aircraft following the opening ceremony for Thracian Star 2012 on April 18th, 2012.

"The F-16 program is experiencing delays due to supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These unfortunate delays will affect all countries currently participating in the program," the U.S. embassy to Bulgaria said in a statement published on Saturday.

In 2019, Bulgaria agreed and paid in full for the $1.2 billion (1.1 billion euro) purchase of eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets from the U.S. The deal envisages the delivery of six single-seat F-16 jets and two two-seat aircraft to be used for training, as well as supply of weapons for the aircraft.

In 2020, the U.S. defense department said that the production of all eight F-16s is expected to be completed by January 31, 2027.

Additional images:

USAF F-16C block 40 #89-2057 from the 510th FS prepares to taxi toward the end of runway while another F-16 takes off in the background at Graf Ignattevo AFB, Bulgaria on October 18th, 2007. 250 Airman from Aviano join with Bulgarian air force to train together during Exercise Rodopi Javelin 2007 at Graf Ignattevo AFB, Bulgaria. [USAF photo by SSgt. Michael R. Holzworth]

USAF F-16C block 40 #89-2041 from the 555th FS taxis past a line of Bulgarian air force MiG-21 and MiG-29 aircraft on April 17th, 2012 after arriving from Aviano AB. More than two dozen aircraft and 500 U.S. Airmen from the 31st FW at Aviano AB are taking part in Thracian Star 2012. [USAF photo by SrA. Katherine Windish]

Lt. Col. Jose Monteagudo, 482nd FW, prepares to take Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev (backseat) on an incentive flight in USAF F-16D block 30 #86-0053 on June 11th, 2008, at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria. Colonel Monteagudo and 10 F-16s from the 93rd FS at Homestead ARB are at Graf Ignatievo AB to particpate in a joint drill with 15 Bulgarian MiG-21 and MiG-29 fighters. Minister Tsenov visited the base to see how the joint drill was progressing. [Photo by Darik Plovdiv]