A Vermont-based F-16 Fighting Falcon is on display at the Great State of Maine Air Show, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Brunswick,
FILE - A Vermont-based F-16 Fighting Falcon is on display at the Great State of Maine Air Show, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Brun

SOFIA, BULGARIA - Bulgaria's government has decided to buy eight new F-16 fighters in a bid to replace its aging Soviet-built jets and bring its air force in line with NATO standards.

The government gave the go-head Wednesday for the defense minister to sign the contract for the purchase of eight multi-role F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft.

Deputy defense minister Atanas Zapryanov told reporters that the $1.25 billion deal includes the aircraft, ammunition, equipment and pilot training, and that there is an option for the U.S. Congress to contribute $60 million. He said that six single-seat and two two-seat F-16s would be delivered by 2023.
 
The decision still needs parliamentary approval, but it is expected to get that easily given that the ruling coalition has a majority.
 
Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004.