France's Nexter bids to supply armored vehicles to Bulgarian army

SOFIA, Sept 25 (Reuters) - French state-owned group Nexter Systems said on Monday it would bid to supply Bulgaria with armored modular vehicles (AMVs) for the NATO member's army.

Bulgaria plans to buy 198 vehicles as part of a program to modernize its armed forces, which will include upgrading its naval capability and purchasing eight new or secondhand fighter jets. Its defense ministry is due to draw up a shortlist of AMV suppliers by the end of this month.

"We will present our offer on Tuesday," Nexter's Bulgarian representative Emil Dinkov told Reuters.

Several other firms have also expressed interest in supplying AMVs to the Bulgarian army. They include Finland's Patria, Germany's Rheinmetall Defence AG, U.S.-based Textron Inc and Swiss firm Mowag, which is part of General Dynamics' European Land Systems Group, according to sources familiar with the matter.

If Nexter is awarded the contract, it plans to produce the AMVs in cooperation with Bulgarian companies if possible, Dinkov said.

"Nexter's offer includes two types of armored vehicles - VBCI, which is an 8OE8 wheel vehicle, and TITUS, which is a 6x6," Dinkov said.

Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and became a European Union member in 2007.

Sofia's plans to buy eight fighter jets were put on hold last week after lawmakers questioned if all bidders for the contract had been treated equally. ($1 = 1.6469 leva) (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Susan Fenton)