October 26, 2007 (by Capt. Jennifer Ferrau) - Members of the 31st FW wrapped up Rodopi Javelin 2007 today, a three-week exercise, marking the second time the 510th FS participated in a joint exercise with the Bulgarian air force at Graf Ignatevio AB, Bulgaria.
USAF F-16C block 40 #90-0709 from the 510th FS takes off from Graf Ignattevo AFB, Bulgaria, for a Combat training mission on October 17th, 2007. [USAF photo by SSgt. Michael R. Holzworth]
The exercise, which began Oct. 5, allowed members of both the U.S. Air Force and the Bulgarian air force to perform low-level flying,air-to-ground gunnery, basic fighting maneuvers, and backseat orientation and intercept training.
The joint exercise included academics and flying missions in F-16s and MiG-29 aircraft. Daily missions consisted of briefings, tactical intercept (radar and ground control intercepts) and basic fighting maneuver flights where pilots would maneuver within visual range to engage "enemy" aircraft, followed by debriefings in which U.S. and Bulgarians personnel discussed their experiences.
Lt. Col. Adrian Pone, 510th FS
commander, said many benefits came from this exercise. "We were able to further strengthen our relationships with the Bulgarians while gaining realistic training and exchanging ideas across the career field spectrum," he said. "Our members who were part of this exercise, whether they were pilots, maintainers or air traffic controllers, received invaluable lessons during the past three weeks."
The Bulgarian air force participants, led by Graf Ignatevio AFB
commander, Brig. Gen. Rumen Radev, were able to further develop regulations, tactics, techniques and procedures, formulate requirements of their pilots' knowledge and skills development, learn NATO
standardization and interoperability and establish realistic training processes.
"Our Bulgarian MiG pilots are much improved since the 2005 deployment when the 510th Fighter Squadron first came here (during Viper Javelin)," he said.
General Radev and Colonel Pone discussed the future of joint exercises with Aviano and Graf Ignatevio aircraft.
"We could have a potential "mini flag" exercise," Pone said. "The training opportunities here are endless."
General Radev agreed. "We are able to provide plenty of airspace, contemporary facilities, low level training and great training ranges," he said. "I look forward to the next exercise which will afford us even greater training in a realistic environment."