Bulgaria’s F-16 Block 70 fleet nears completion as officials, including Bulgarian Defense Minister Todor Tagarev, visit Lockheed Martin’s Greenville facility where seven jets are in production.
Bulgaria is set to upgrade its air defense with the imminent introduction of the F-16 Block 70 fleet, replacing aging MiG-29s and paving the way for the retirement of Su-25 ground attack jets. At present, seven F-16 Block 70s are in various stages of assembly, and the inaugural flight of the first fighter is scheduled for later this year.
During a recent visit to Lockheed Martin’s F-16 production facility, Bulgarian Defense Minister Todor Tagarev, accompanied by Ambassador Georgi Panayotov and Defense Chief Admiral Emil Eftimov, inspected the progress of the aircraft’s production. In a brief formal ceremony, he officially signed the fuselage of the initial dual-seat aircraft with the serial number MY-01.
Bulgaria, following in the footsteps of Slovakia, is poised to become the second European nation to benefit from the features of the F-16 Block 70, having ordered a total of sixteen F-16C and F-16D Block 70 fighter aircraft.
The first order, placed in 2019, included eight F-16 Block 70 fighters. In 2020, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $512 million contract for the construction of these eight aircraft. In 2021, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defense requested a second batch of eight F-16 Block 70 fighters, including four F-16C Block 70 and four F-16D Block 70 fighters, along with related equipment.