Mon, May 20 2013
Gripen International said on August 23 that it had offered the Bulgarian Defence Ministry a package of 16 multi-role fighters for the country's armed forces.
The proposed models were of the C/D version (12 single-seat and four two-seaters) that could be armed with various weapons made in the US, Israel and elsewhere, the Swedish company told journalists.
Gripen undertakes to handle the maintenance of the aircraft and the Bulgarian pilots' training. The package lists several project financing options, including a 15-year lease contract.
The company is ready to implement an offset programme to a value of at least 100 per cent of the transaction costs.
The offer was submitted to representatives of the Defence Ministry, the General Staff of the Bulgarian armed forces and the air force, reacting to an enquiry from the Defence Ministry about stocks, prices and timeframe of delivery.
Along with other European and US companies which have been approached with such enquiries, Gripen International has expressed interest in the future competitive bidding procedure for procurement of new multi-role fighters for the Bulgarian air force.
Gripen International signed a memorandum of understanding with the Defence Ministry on September 28 2004. A SAAB/Gripen International representative office opened in Sofia on June 22 2006.
"We are confident that what we can offer is close to unique - a wide range of defence and civil security products and systems. Among those are the newest generation multi-role NATO-interoperable Gripen fighter, which can meet the future defence requirements of the Bulgarian air force, much earlier and at a significantly lower cost than any competitor," said local office head Daniel Boestad.
Gripen first said on April 27 this year that it had been approached by the Defence Ministry in Sofia about conditions for delivering fighter jets for this country's armed forces.
The inquiry sent by the ministry included questions about prices, availability and delivery conditions for Gripen fighters.
Bulgaria said earlier this year that the Cabinet would select a new fighter aircraft for the modernisation of the Bulgarian army within its four-year term of office.
Saab (the owner of Gripen), Lockheed Martin and Boeing have expressed interest in supplying Bulgaria with their Gripen, F-16 and F-18 jets, respectively, in a deal estimated to cost about a billion US dollars (780 million euro).
The fighter procurement procedure, expected to get underway by the end of 2006 and take almost two years to complete, is the most expensive upgrade project of the Bulgarian armed forces.
The Cabinet has demanded that the investments on the offset programmes be at least 80 per cent of the deal's total value. Provided that the projected value of the deal is between $1.1 billion and $1.4 billion on direct and indirect offset programmes, companies will be expected to invest between $870 million and $1.1 billion in Bulgaria.
Gripen said in 2005 that there would be agreements between the country buying the jets and Investor Group, the biggest public holding in Sweden, which has Saab, Ericsson, Electrolux, Scania, Volvo and SKF among its members.
Gripen's fighters are in service with Sweden's and the Czech Republic's air forces. Units have also been ordered by the South African and Hungarian military commands. The UK's Empire Test Pilots' School is also operating Gripens, as well as its advanced fast-jet training platform for test pilots worldwide.
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