How good is the F 16 jet

F-16: "Most Expensive Vacuum Cleaner"

Bulgaria is debating whether to buy new fighter jets

The Voennowasduschni sili na Balgarija, the Bulgarian air force, currently has 20 MiG-29, 14 Su-25 and three MiG-21 fighter aircraft from Soviet production, which were put into operation between 1964 and 1989. NATO, which the country joined on March 29, 2004, is not satisfied with this. It puts pressure on the country to buy new western-made fighter planes.

The Lockheed Martin F-35s are considered to be the best fighter jets currently available, but they are also the most expensive (cf. Lindsey Graham: NATO is "the best American investment since World War II"). The German-British-Italian-Spanish Eurofighters would be cheaper, but the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense is not considering buying them either.

Austria has already had such bad experiences with them that, after several parliamentary committees of inquiry and judicial investigations, it will gradually decommission the aircraft from 2020 and buy other aircraft that should be cheaper, better equipped, less defective and "ready for use day and night" (See Austrian Defense Minister reports Airbus and Merkel and Macron are planning Eurofighter successors).

US government bans second-hand sales of modernized machines

The Swedish multi-purpose fighter aircraft Gripen (which Hungary and the Czech Republic opted for), the French Mirage successor Rafale (which so far has only found buyers outside of its manufacturing country - see later success for a slow-moving company), the Chinese Chengdu (the NATO would not like to see Russian Sukhoi) and the Lockheed Martin F-16.

With the latter, however, the customer has to accept that the machines that have been mass-produced since 1976 are no longer necessarily state-of-the-art in every respect. Croatia therefore wanted to buy twelve F-16s to replace its twelve MiG-21s, not from the USA, but used them from Israel. The machines there had been upgraded with their own modern electronics some time ago. In January, however, the US government refused to approve the resale of the aircraft (cf. used fighter aircraft trade between Croatia and Israel has burst).

President and ex-air force commander: "The triumph of lobbyism"

The US State Department decided otherwise this week about the Bulgarian government's request to purchase eight new F-16s directly from the American manufacturer for a total of three billion levs. This price should also include the armament and maintenance of the machines as well as the pilot training.

However, not all Bulgarian politicians agree with this deal. Some are of the opinion that the country, which is not necessarily financially strong with a gross domestic product equivalent to only about 57 billion dollars, could spend its tax money more sensibly. One of them is the non-partisan Bulgarian President Rumen Radew, who was the commander of the Bulgarian Air Force before his election. In view of the significantly higher than expected price for the eight fighter jets, he spoke of a "triumph of lobbyism".

"Being unable to intimidate anyone, just support the US economy with [almost] two billion dollars"

His first name cousin Rumen Petkov, who heads the Social Democratic split Alternatiwa sa Balgarsko Wasraschdane, the "Alternative for Bulgarian Rebirth" (ABW), compared the F-16 on channel 3 with the "most expensive vacuum cleaners". He was not alluding to the performance of the machines, whose reputation suffered somewhat in the recent fighting between India and Pakistan (cf. Kashmir: Kills and Sales), but to the sales behavior of the Americans. In his opinion, they don't act like allies, but like peddlers. With the F-16, Bulgaria "will not be able to intimidate anyone, it will only support the US economy with [almost] two billion dollars", he says.

He is relatively in agreement on this question with Wollen Siderow, the chairman of the nationalist Ataka party. He took the American reason for approval that the deal would "contribute to interoperability with the USA and NATO" as an opportunity to suggest that the Americans "let us have these aircraft free of charge - just as we have made four military bases available to them free of charge for 13 years" . In addition, according to Siderow, they did the same with Egypt and Indonesia. (Peter Mühlbauer)

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