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July 14, 2021updated 15 Jul 2021 12:42pm

USAF participates in Bulgarian Air Force-led exercise Thracian Star 21

Thracian Star 21 is a tactical level field training exercise being conducted at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria.

The US Air Force’s (USAF) 555th Fighter Squadron (FS) is taking part in the Bulgarian Air Force-led tactical level field training exercise Thracian Star 21.

More than 150 personnel and multiple F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the FS will train alongside the airforces of Bulgaria, Romania and Greece.

Thracian Star 21 is being conducted at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Bulgaria. It began on 9 July and will run through 23 July this year.

It is intended to enhance interoperability, combat effectiveness and survival awareness when operating in a dynamic high-threat environment.

US Air Force 555th Fighter Squadron commander lieutenant colonel John Ryan said: “These types of exercises emphasise interoperability and give us the opportunity to learn how to work together and learn how to fight together.

“It’s a mix of air-to-air, air-to-ground, and long-range intercept training. Then there’s also a fair amount of air-to-ground training. During this exercise, the 555th FS has the opportunity to employ a variety of munitions here at the ranges in Bulgaria.”

The 555th FS crew will train and test their capabilities in quick forward deployment, sustainment operations, and coordination missions with partner militaries and allies.

Participating in exercises such as Thracian Star 21 will improve professional relationships and also enhance overall coordination with allies and partners, noted the USAF.

Alongside pilots, airmen will also get an opportunity to hone operational and tactical skills in a new environment in such exercises.

Ryan added: “Any time there’s major conflict, what we learned over the years is we’re not going as a single country, we’re going to do it as a coalition of some sort.

“To take advantage of these opportunities is not beneficial for just us, but for all of the participants.”

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