SOFIA, Nov 4 (AFP) - Bulgaria's parliament on Friday approved the purchase of the country's second eight-piece batch of F-16 fighter jets from the US, local media reported.

The proposal for the $1.3 billion was passed in the 240-seat assembly with 162 votes in favor versus 49 against, while 11 members abstained. The jets are expected to arrive in 2027.

As it seeks to replace its 15 Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets and improve its compliance with NATO standards, Bulgaria had previously ordered another eight Lockheed Martin F-16 jets in 2019.

Due to Russia's war on Ukraine, Sofia has been unable to get maintenance and repair services for its MiG-29 jets.

In August, Bulgaria launched talks with Poland on the repair of its MiG-29 jets to keep its fleet operational until the end of 2023 as only a few of them are in flying condition.

A cooperation protocol had been signed between them on the matter in 2015, though Russia objected to the validity of the license held by Poland to repair the aircraft. Poland had repaired just two engines.

Cooperation with Moscow on the jets' repairs became impossible with the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in February.

With its latest order of US-made jets, the Balkan nation will have a total of 16 F-16 aircraft to take over the task of protecting the country's airspace.

The eight F-16 Block 70 jets that Sofia had previously purchased are expected to arrive in late 2025.

Bulgaria occasionally enlists the help of various NATO allies in maintaining its airspace, known as "air policing."