(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 1, 2010: Bulgarian Defence Minister Anyo Angelov has held talks with defence secretary Robert Gates, where the two officials discussed the heightened Bulgarian-US strategic military partnership, the Defence Ministry website reported on June 29 2010.
The talks concentrated on the Novo Selo military base in Bulgaria, ongoing Nato operations and Bulgaria's contribution in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the potential sale of US fighter jets to Bulgaria and the missile defence shield.
"Our strategic partnership with the US must develop further and encompass all possible fields, because this is a vital buttress in our mutual defence policy for the future," Angelov said during the meeting, according to the official Government statement.
Angelov also informed his American counterpart of the ongoing structural reforms within the Bulgarian armed forces, expressing his thanks for "sustained and methodical American assistance". Angelov thanked Gates for American logistical support provided to the Bulgarian military contingents in Kabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan and for air force co-operation between the two countries.
Among the topics stressed during the meeting, according to the official statement, was the possibility of Bulgaria buying multi-purpose F-16 fighter jets from the US.
In May 2010, Angelov announced that the Defence Ministry was interested in securing a number of such fighter jets for the Bulgarian Air Force.
Designed as a lightweight fighter, the F-16 concept metamorphosed into a multi-purpose all-weather combat and superiority fighter/bomber interceptor. The Falcon's versatility is behind its international success and the large numbers sold, as it is currently in active service in the air forces of 25 nations.
To date, the F-16 programme represents the largest western jet fighter roster, with more than 4400 aircraft built since production was initially approved in 1976.
The US air force is no longer a participant in the programme; it will gradually replace the plane by the F-35 VTOAL, but the old model will continue to be in active service in the USAF until 2025. Meanwhile, advanced versions are still being built for export customers.
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