Two United States Air Force F-35 jets and about supporting teams have arrived at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria.
The F-35As are participating in the first training deployment to Europe. Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Third Air Force commander said:
“The United States and Bulgaria have a strong and enduring relationship.
We routinely train through joint and combined initiatives like Operation Atlantic Resolve and in flying exercises like Thracian Eagle, Thracian Summer and Thracian Star.
Our commitment to Bulgaria is but an example of our unwavering support to all allied nations.”
Similar to the visit to Estonia, this training deployment has officially been planned for some time and was conducted in close coordination with Bulgarian allies, however it’s hard to ignore the impact this may have on Russia.
From a practical point of view, the deployment gives F-35 pilots the opportunity to engage in familiarization training while reassuring allies.
Maj. Gen. Tsanko Stoykov, Bulgarian Air Force commander said:
“I have to say that for us, this makes us very proud. Our efforts have been appreciated and we are trusted as a reliable ally and it immensely contributes to the development of the bilateral relations between our two counties and our two air forces.”
The accompanying KC-135 is reportedly from 459th Air Refueling Wing and is providing support for the deployment.