30 May 16. Boeing set to win $2.9bn contract from UK MoD: the Telegraph. Boeing Co (BA.N) is set to win a £2bn ($2.92bn) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for new Apache helicopters, the Telegraph reported. The MoD has decided to give Boeing a 50-aircraft contract, including servicing, and the announcement could come as early as July, the newspaper said. U.S. planemaker Boeing is offering the helicopters at a lower price by tacking them on to the end of a larger Apache order from the US military, the paper added. The British government has committed to NATO’s defense spending pledge of 2 percent of GDP for the next five years, but the MoD will be under pressure to opt for the most cost effective option as it juggles spending on a number of big projects. Boeing and the MoD could not be immediately reached for comment. (Source: Reuters/Daily Telegraph))
27 May 16. Bulgarian Parliamentary Committees Approve Jet Fighter, Patrol Ship Projects. The Bulgarian Parliament’s committees on defence and on budget and finance have approved projects worth well more than €1bn to acquire new jet fighters and two new naval patrol vessels.
The Cabinet approved the military shopping list, also including armoured vehicles, at the end of March. By Bulgarian law, the large sums of money involved are above the threshold requiring parliamentary approval. Following the May 26 approval at a joint sitting of the two committees, the proposals will be tabled at a plenary sitting of the National Assembly. The acquisition of new jet fighters, to meet the standards of Nato of which Bulgaria has been a member since 2004, has been on the agenda of a succession of Bulgarian governments. The country currently has a contract with Poland to keep its ageing Russian-made MiG-29 fighters flying pending the acquisition of aircraft that are up to Nato standards. It is expected that Bulgaria’s acquisition of new multi-role military jet fighters will happen through negotiations towards an inter-state agreement rather than through a tender process. In July 2015, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev said that the Cabinet had given him a mandate to negotiate the acquisition of new combat jets.
The Ministry of Defence has been examining three options for the acquisition of a new type of fighter: new Swedish Gripens, the Eurofighter and second-hand US-made F-16s from Portugal. Defence Ministry officials however are said to believe that the Eurofighter would prove significantly too expensive for Bulgaria. The choice effectively comes down to Gripens or the used F-16s from Portugal. Sweden and Gripen have underlined willingness to negotiate a package to suit Bulgaria’s pocket, with a deferred payment plan, and point to the record of Gripen acquisitions successfully elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, for example by the Czech Republic. Advocates of the acquisition of out-of-the-box jet fighters also underline that getting fighters second-hand means that the aircraft would have a shorter life expectancy and doom the Bulgarian taxpayer to facing the big-ticket question all over again in some years’ time. Unofficial information is that the Bulgarian Air Force would favour getting newly-manufactured jet fighters, but the decision is likely to be a political one. Air Force chief General Roumen Radev said that any delay in the project to acquire new fighters could be fatal. The idea is to first get eight new fighters, and further on, another eight. The first half of the jet fighter acquisition would be the more expensive because it would also include various items such as training and simulators. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said that the total cost of the two projects – the fighters and the patrol vessels – as envisaged in the medium-term forecast to 2019, is 2.32bn leva (about 1.16bn euro). The contracts will be paid in installments over several years. The draft envisages 10m leva for the new aircraft project in 2016 and 114m leva for the patrol vessels