Bulgaria’s and American air forces are in the middle of conducting their first joint NATO air policing mission. According to the U.S. Armed Forces, this mission “enables on-demand response capabilities. This is about deterring violations of Bulgaria’s airspace”.
In the past months, the Russian Air Force has repeatedly entered Bulgaria’s airspace illegally. The Bulgarian government has officially protested against those violations, in a diffident tone, presumably because of several issues and discussions, which are on the agenda of the two countries.
The policing mission, along Bulgaria’s eastern border, involves four F-15 Eagle fighter jets, which were deployed here recently. Usually, those aircraft, along with 75 airmen from the 194th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, are stationed in Massachusetts and California, as part of the U.S. Air National Guards. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Matthew Ohman said: “It’s quite an honor to be the first-ever U.S. or NATO participant here in Bulgaria for this mission”.
The American jet fighters taking part in this mission were initially deployed to Campia Turzii in neighbouring Romania, before being moved to the Bulgarian base in Graf Ignatievo.
The squadron in Bulgaria represents what the American military calls “a total force endeavor”, comprised of Air National Guard and Reserve Airmen from the 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, and the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air Base, Massachusetts, alongside active-duty Airmen in support roles from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.
Lt. Col. Cesar Gonzalez from the 194th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron said: “It’s important that we are standing side-by-side with our NATO allies.”
Source: DVIDS, U.S. Armed Forces
Photo by Staff Sgt. Joe McFadden