Bulgaria's government said it mandated defence minister Anyu Angelov to negotiate the acquisition of at least eight multi-purpose combat aircraft.
Angelov would have to report to the cabinet by March 1 on the outcome of his negotiations with the countries which have submitted offers - Germany, the U.S., Portugal, Israel, Italy and Sweden, and to propose an investment project for a specific type of combat aircraft, the government said in a statement.
The government has set no limit on the value of planned deal but if the value exceeds 100 million levs ($67.4 million/51 million euro) the signing of a contract will require parliament approval, Angelov told reporters following the cabinet's weekly meeting.
The new type of main combat aircraft should meet NATO's standards for a modern multi-purpose jet fighter featuring a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface combat capabilities. It should replace the ageing Soviet-era combat aircraft MiG-21 and Su-25 currently in service in the Bulgarian Air Force.