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NATO's enhanced Air Policing measures begin in Bulgaria

MONS, Belgium - The U.S. Air Force, in close cooperation with the Bulgarian Air Force, began NATO's enhanced Air Policing measures to protect Bulgarian airspace on Sept. 9, 2016.

This is the first time the Alliance has launched the enhanced Air Policing measures in Bulgaria. Until now, NATO air policing in the region has been conducted by national means.

Four U.S. F-15 fighter jets arrived in Bulgaria earlier and were certified by NATO experts to conduct NATO Air Policing missions to the same standards Bulgaria routinely does. The U.S. jets join Bulgaria's MIG-29s for a week on this mission.

A California Air National Guard F-15C Eagle from the 194th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flies in formation with a Bulgarian air force MiG-29 Fulcrum over the skies of Bulgaria. The 194th EFS Griffins participated in Thracian Star 2016 -- a multilateral exercise emphasizing Dissimilar Air Combat Training with the BulAF, RoAF, and other eastern European nations. 
"This latest mission not only confirms our resolve to preserve the integrity of Allied airspace, our ability to support each other as well as our continued commitment and solidarity to our Ally, Bulgaria," said Director of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC) at Allied Command Operations, Brigadier General Nico Tak. 

NATO air policing is a standing peacetime mission to preserve the integrity of Allied airspace; the enhanced Air Policing is part of the Alliance's Assurance Measures for eastern Allies. As part of this mission, NATO assets respond to civilian aircraft in distress and non-NATO military aircraft that do not follow international flight regulations in their approach to NATO airspace.

NATO's Air Policing responses seek to minimise risks, and ensure the safety of the airspace and its users.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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