Mixing it Up in Friendly Skies

Engaging MiG-21s and MiG-29s in the skies over Eastern Europe, an act of war not so long ago, is today an act of solidarity between allies. F-16s assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, joined Bulgarian MiG-21s and MiG-29s this week for combined training at Graf Ignatievo AB, Bulgaria, In addition to practicing dissimilar air-to-air engagement tactics, the Spangdahlem aircrews got the rare opportunity to practice low-altitude maneuvers in Bulgaria’s uniquely unrestricted airspace. “Here we are able to do flying maneuvers, and very quickly regain our pilots’ low-altitude proficiency,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Wolcott, 480th FS commander. The Bulgarian airmen benefited from the training as well, since they were able to study US operations and maintenance procedures first-hand. “Bulgarians are strong US allies, we are really fortunate to be able to come here,” said Wolcott. (Spangdahlem report by Maj. Jillian Torango)