RAMSTEIN, Germany - United States Air Force (USAF) F-35s have joined their Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) colleagues to conduct air operations in the Black Sea region, May 30.
Alliance aircraft routinely operate together in the Black Sea region in order to hone communication skills and enhance interoperability for future missions.
USAF 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 USAF F-35s landed at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria enabling them to increase their range and endurance over the Black Sea.
F-35A Lightning from Spangdahlem, Germany. Ready for missions in the European theater. Archive photo: Technical Sergeant Maeson L. Elleman US Air Force
The Royal Netherland Air Force is currently on their enhanced Air policing mission in Bulgaria. Photo courtesy: Royal Netherlands Air Force
"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," said Brigadier General Christoph Pliet, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations. "Alliance aircraft routinely operate together in the Black Sea region in order to hone communication skills and enhance interoperability for future missions."
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 our collective defence and ensure the security of its members in the region.