Bulgarian F-16 Block 70 Production Nears Completion

The country is set to become the second in Europe to take delivery of the advanced fighters.

A delegation from Bulgaria visited Lockheed Martin’s Greenville, South Carolina, facility to view progress on the F-16 production line. [Courtesy: Lockheed Martin]

Bulgarian defense officials have begun planning the first flight of the country's F-16 Block 70 as production of its first batch of advanced fighter jets nears completion, Lockheed Martin said Tuesday.

The inaugural flight of the aircraft, set to replace the country's aging fleet of MiG-29s, is expected by the end of the year.

Last week, a delegation of Bulgarian officials, which included Minister of Defense Todor Tagarev, visited Lockheed Martin's Greenville, South Carolina, production facility to inspect production progress. 

In a brief ceremony, Bulgarian Minister of Defense Todor Tagarev signed the fuselage of an F-16 Block 70 jet for Bulgaria. [Courtesy: Lockheed Martin]

Seven of the country's first batch of eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft are in various stages of production at the facility.

“Bulgaria is acquiring a proven, state-of-the-art fighter aircraft system that will deliver decades of 21st century security capabilities and NATO interoperability," OJ Sanchez, vice president and general manager of the integrated fighter group at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement.

When the aircraft roll off the line, Bulgaria will become the second European country to take delivery of the advanced fighters.

Last week, the Slovak Air Force took delivery of the first two of its Block 70 fighters, allowing it to begin resuming air defense following the retirement of its Russian MiG-29 fighters in 2022. Slovakia has ordered 14 of the advanced fighter jets produced in the manufacturer’s Greenville facility, which currently has a backlog of 135 jets.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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