SOFIA (Bulgaria), February 14 – The Bulgarian Defense Ministry said Spain sent four Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon fighter jets to Bulgaria as NATO-Russian tensions grew over the build-up of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine.
A total of 130 Spanish service members will be stationed in Bulgaria by March 31 to jointly carry out advanced air policing with the Bulgarian Air Force. The Bulgarian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Friday after the fighter jets arrived at Graf Ignativo Airbase near Plovdiv, in southern Bulgaria.
The Defense Ministry said the aerial police mission would be implemented to reassure nations on the eastern side of NATO and will be carried out in compliance with the plans and procedures of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense System.
Last month, NATO said it is sending more naval vessels and fighter aircraft and putting new forces on standby to the organisation’s deployments in Eastern Europe to “enhance deterrence and defence” as Moscow continues its military build-up around Ukraine.
Bulgaria plans a battle group of 1,000 soldiers under Bulgarian command and in close cooperation with NATO, including troops from other allied countries. It may be formed in April or May.
The Bulgarian government gave the green light to Spain to send up to 10 Eurofighter warplanes and up to 200 soldiers to support the Black Sea nation’s air policing activities from February to April. The Netherlands is expected to deploy two F-35 aircraft to Bulgaria in April and May.
Under a deal with Bulgaria, the United States can keep up to 2,500 U.S. troops at several joint bases. There are 200 U.S. troops and infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, helicopters, and other military equipment for training until the end of June.