In addition to ensuring the safety of Bulgaria’s skies, the joint patrols will improve the ability of Bulgarian and Italian pilots to work together according to the alliance. The mission is also reportedly a demonstration of Allied solidarity.
Allied aircraft regularly patrol NATO’s airspace together. In the summer of 2016, for instance, American F-15 fighter jets joined the Bulgarian Airforce for a similar mission.
Bulgaria’s MiG-29 fighter jets have been part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System since 2004, when Bulgaria joined NATO. The system safeguards Allied airspace and its users.