Bulgaria intends to seek offers from four manufacturers for a 1.46 billion levs ($838 million/746 million euro) contract, VAT included, for delivery of 150 armoured vehicles for three army battalions, the defence ministry said. Bulgaria will send requests for proposals to Germany's Artec, France's Nexter Group, Finland's Patria and Switzerland's MOWAG, part of General Dynamics Corporation, the ministry said in a statement on Friday. An interdepartmental working group will assess the received offers and pick a winner by December 20.The project and its financing were endorsed by government and parliament in mid-2018, but its implementation has been delayed possibly because Bulgaria agreed last month to acquire eight F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. for $1.256 billion, which have to be paid for in full this year. Last week, Bulgaria's parliament endorsed the government's proposal to increase the 2019 budget deficit to 2.1% of the projected gross domestic product in order to finance the purchase of the fighter jets. Under the new budget, an additional 2.1 billion levs ($1.2 billion/1.1 billion euro) were allocated to the defence ministry's budget for the F-16 purchase, while 271 million levs in planned expenses for other military acquisitions were cut.