The US will today join the international air force exercise Thracian Viper 2020 in Bulgaria, deploying its F-16 fighter jets to the Graf Ignatievo air base.
The 12-day air force drill, during which participating forces will operate from seven military bases in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, is expected to enhance the Bulgarian Air Force’s offensive and defensive capabilities as well as improve coalition interoperability.
The integrated training exercises come at a time when political and military tensions have arisen in the Eastern Mediterranean between Europe and Turkey over natural gas resources. Simultaneously, a wave of protests has swept Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, prompting concerns over a rising tide of violence and instability in the region.
The international exercise is likely to be a step toward restoring faith in NATO’s unity despite the many adversaries among its member states. Expect Bulgaria to capitalise on this opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the alliance. However, it is unlikely that routine training exercises alone will directly ease the burden of the conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean.
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