NATO has bolstered its Southern Air Policing mission with the deployment of four Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana: AMI) Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to Bulgaria, the alliance announced on 7 July.
The arrival of the AMI’s Typhoons and approximately 110 personnel at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in the central region of Bulgaria follows the deployment in April of four UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons to Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania as part of the same Southern Air Policing mission. The two rotations will overlap through to September, at which time the RAF Typhoons will return to the UK.
The aircraft from the AMI’s 4th, 36th and 37th wings will conduct familiarisation flights in Bulgarian airspace and undergo certification by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Torrejon, Spain. Once fully operational, the Typhoons will commence joint flights with Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ fighters.
“Bulgaria is perfectly able to conduct NATO Air Policing with its assets; this enhanced Air Policing capability offered by the Italian jets provides the CAOC with more flexibility to conduct the mission,” NATO said.
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