U.S. Air Force F‑16s Begin NATO Air Policing Mission in Bulgaria

 In Europe, CEE, CIS, Air, Canada, Forces & Capabilities, NATO

The U.S. Air Force began NATO air patrols using F‑16 Fighting Falcon air­craft fight­er air­craft over Bulgaria on September 28.

The four-week long mis­sion involves the deploy­ment of six F‑16 Fighting Falcon air­craft to Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria, which will fly along­side Bulgarian fight­er air­craft.

The mis­sion is part of NATO’s enhanced air polic­ing mea­sures in the region, intro­duced in response to Russia’s ille­gal annex­a­tion of Crimea and desta­bi­liza­tion of east­ern Ukraine. In addi­tion to ensur­ing the safety of Bulgaria’s skies, the joint patrols will improve the abil­i­ty of Bulgarian and US pilots to work togeth­er. The mis­sion is also a demon­stra­tion of Allied sol­i­dar­i­ty. Six Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-18 Hornet fight­er jets are also oper­at­ing in the region under the NATO mis­sion, from neigh­bor­ing Romania.

NATO air polic­ing mis­sions are designed to secure the air­space of Allies. The air polic­ing jets will take to the skies at short notice when mil­i­tary or civil­ian air­craft are in dis­tress or they do not follow inter­na­tion­al flight reg­u­la­tions and approach the sov­er­eign air­space of NATO Allies.

Allies deployed fight­er detach­ments to Bulgaria on NATO duty for the first time in September 2016, when American F‑15 fight­er jets joined the Bulgarian Air Force for a sim­i­lar mis­sion. From July to October 2017, Italian Eurofighters con­duct­ed the mis­sion in Bulgaria

DefPost source|articles

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