The Air Force of the Kingdom of Spain will relocate 130 servicemen and 4 Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon II aircraft to Bulgaria. They will perform tasks on enhanced airspace protection together with the Bulgarian Air Force until March 31, 2022, the Ministry of Defense announced. The first Spanish fighters are expected to land at Graf Ignatievo Air Base by the end of the week.
The arrival of the Spanish fighters to strengthen the Bulgarian Air Force became possible after the Council of Ministers made a decision on January 24, 2022. is in implementation of the measures to ensure the security of the member states of NATO‘s Eastern Flank and will be implemented according to the plans and procedures of the Integrated System of the Alliance for Air and Missile Defense (NATINAMDS /), specified by the MoD.
The Spanish on-duty crews, together with their Bulgarian counterparts, will perform tasks for air duty, interception, visual reconnaissance and accompaniment. The Bulgarian Air Force will continue to fulfill its national commitments to be on duty in the NATO Integrated System for Air and Missile Defense / NATINAMDS /. Each of the parties will bear the costs of its own forces and resources involved in the strengthening of air security.
The protection of NATO airspace is a peacetime collective defense mission. Its purpose is to ensure the integrity and security of the airspace of the Allies of the Alliance, reminded by the MoD. According to their press release, “the participation of personnel and equipment from the Bulgarian Air Force in joint Air Policing operations proves Bulgaria‘s combat aviation capabilities to act integrated with Allied forces to ensure the air security of the Alliance’s eastern flanks.”
The joint Air Policing mission is not based on the possibility of a new war between Russia and Ukraine but is based on decisions to ensure the security of Allies in Eastern Europe taken at the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014 and in Warsaw in 2016. One of these decisions is to strengthen the airspace mission of the eastern flank member states with allied forces on a rotating basis. Until this year, the Bulgarian Air Force has jointly performed Air Policing tasks in 2014 and 2016 with forces and resources of the US Air Force and in 2017 – with forces and resources of the Air Force of the Italian Republic.
Since 2012, the Bulgarian Air Force has carried out a significant number of cross-border operations with the Romanian Air Force.
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