With a billion-dollar deal to build F-16 fighter jets for American allies at stake, the Bulgarian Parliament overturned President Rumen Radev’s veto Friday to stop the purchase. The European government will now move ahead and buy eight of the aircraft from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Greenville County, making it the country’s largest military purchase since the fall of Communism three decades ago.
The Bulgarian President shot down the deal just weeks after the prospective purchase was announced in early July, citing there was no “consensus” over the eight-aircraft purchase and the process had been rushed through parliament.
The F-16s are intended to replace the Bulgarian air force’s fleet of MiG-29s. Four aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2023, with the remainder to arrive the following year. A maintenance and support package, Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and communications equipment are also included in the purchase.
Lockheed Martin spokesperson, Leslie Farmer, said the aerospace and defense company welcomes the Bulgarian government’s decision to move forward to buy eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft from the company’s Upstate facility.
The F-16 fighter jets are a NATO benchmark and are also the most advanced version of the aircraft, she said.
The aerospace and defense company unveiled their new F-16 production line in April after building the jet in Texas for 40 years.
Don Myers, SC Aerospace Chair and Director of Aerospace Sales at Toray Composite Materials, told the Upstate Business Journal “there are only a few states in the country producing the most technologically advanced military fighter aircraft for the U.S. and ally nations.”
“Having Lockheed Martin in South Carolina building these aircraft, says a lot about the state’s commitment to support the aerospace sector and the capability of our workforce,” he said.