Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said his country could help protect its southwestern neighbour North Macedonia’s airspace if it completes a deal for the purchase of eight F-16 aircraft from the United States.
Bulgaria, which is also a member of the European Union, is looking to replace its ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s and improve compliance with NATO standards.
A Pentagon agency said on Monday that the U.S. State Department had approved the possible sale of eight F-16 aircraft and related equipment to Bulgaria at an estimated cost of $1.67 billion.
Borissov told reporters that there were talks with North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran) Zaev last week on guarding North Macedonia’s airspace when Bulgaria acquires the new jets.
North Macedonia hopes to become NATO’s 30th member next year and also expects shortly to secure a date to start EU accession talks following a deal with Greece to change its name from Macedonia. Athens had previously blocked the ex-Yugoslav republic’s efforts to join the two organisations.