Bulgarian PM hints at further delay to warplane purchase

Bulgaria's new Prime Minister, Boiko Borisov, on Friday cast doubt over the Balkan country's decision to enter talks to buy new Swedish-made Gripen warplanes to replace its ageing Soviet-designed MiG-29s.
It may be recalled, in April, Bulgaria's interim government said it would enter into talks to buy eight new Gripen warplanes made by SAAB, after approving a Defence Ministry-produced ranking which picked the Swedish jet over an offer from Portugal for secondhand U.S. F-16s and an Italian offer of secondhand Eurofighter Typhoons. At the time, the interim defence minister, Stefan Yanev, said the decision meant that when a new administration took over on May 4 talks could begin with Sweden.

However, officials from the centre-right GERB party now in power has said the interim government should not have made the call on a deal worth an estimated 1.5 billion levs ($860.93 million).

Borisov, who returned as prime minister for the 3rd time since 2009, reportedly said that, the plane is not the most important thing in an army. Let's see if it's right to take aircraft straight away or to look at land forces, ships.

Borisov's comments are the latest twist in a long-running saga that has seen a succession of Bulgarian governments fail to make a decision on which warplane to pick.