Bulgaria to buy military aircraft from Italy
Bulgaria is expected to sign a long-delayed deal on Friday, to buy five military transport planes from Alenia Aeronautica, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica Group, the defence ministry has said.
A year ago, Alenia won a government tender to supply Bulgaria's armed forces with the C-27J Spartan military transport planes, which it produces jointly with U.S.-based Lockheed Martin. The Italian company won the deal against Spain's EADS-CASA aircraft manufacturer.
The government initially planned to buy eight planes from Alenia, but budgetary restrictions forced it to reduce the number to five. Defence Minister Veselin Bliznakov has said that the deal is worth euro 91 million and that Alenia has offered an offset program of more than 200 percent.
The deal is part of Bulgaria's ambitious US$1 billion program to integrate its armed forces into NATO, which the Balkan country joined in 2004.