U.S. Air Force F-35s have joined their Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) colleagues to conduct air operations in the Black Sea region, May 30. U.S. Air Force F-35s, deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, flew a long-range mission to Bulgaria in support of NATO vigilance activities on the Eastern flank. Once in the region they linked with RNLAF F-35s, based in Bulgaria under the NATO enhanced Air Policing mission and the Bulgarian Air Force. The U.S. Air Force F-35s landed at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria enabling them to increase their range and endurance over the Black Sea.
“The ability to leverage the advanced capabilities provided by Allied 5th generation aircraft is key to enhancing NATO’s situational awareness and strengthening our defensive posture in this important region. Alliance aircraft routinely operate together in the Black Sea region in order to hone communication skills and enhance interoperability for future missions,” said Nato’s Headquarters Allied Air Command at Ramstein Air Base in Germany deputy chief of staff operations brigadier general Christoph Pliet.
The American and Dutch fifth generation fighters flew within the Bulgarian airspace. Conducting routine operations and exercising our freedom of navigation and overflight is key to NATO’s ability to bolster collective defence and ensure the security of its members in the region. The routinely activities and operations have been conducted to exercise the freedom of navigation and overflight to enhance Nato and allied nations’ collective defence. Additionally, the rotational deployments in the European Area of Operations also enhance interoperability between the US and its European allies.
The F-35A is a fifth-generation combat aircraft equipped with various capabilities including command and control, communication and lethality for the combined and joint forces. All the capabilities together provide Nato and the US the ability to project and sustain military power and have air superiority in challenging environments. Prior to the Nato’s mission, the F-35 aircraft, along with its aircrew and support personnel, were forward-deployed to the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions for around two and a half months. The forward deployment was to enhance security and stability in the regions while supporting Nato’s enhanced air policing operation.