Bulgaria to sign deal on Italy’s military transport aircraft

Bulgaria on Friday was expected to sign a long-delayed deal to buy five military transport planes from Alenia Aeronautica, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica Group, the defense ministry said.

Alenia won a year ago 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.

Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov has said that the deal is worth Ђ 91 million (US$108 million), and that Alenia has offered an offset program of more than 200 percent, reports the AP.