F-15s, troops from 493rd deploy to Bulgaria
An F-15C Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 6, 2014.
WASHINGTON — Troops and fighter aircraft from the 493rd Fighter Squadron have been sent to Bulgaria as tensions in Eastern Europe continue to run high.
A dozen F-15s and approximately 180 personnel from the 493rd, based at RAF Lakenheath, England, have deployed to Graf Ignatievo Air Base to participate in a two-week bilateral training exercise with the Bulgarian air force, Pentagon spokesmen Col. Steve Warren told reporters Monday.
The exercise began Monday and will continue through Sept. 1.
The purpose of the deployment is to “conduct training and focus on maintain joint readiness while building interoperability,” Warren said.
The move comes at a time when America’s Eastern European partners and allies are concerned about Russian military intervention in Ukraine. There are fears that Moscow might try to destabilize other countries in the region.
“This is a reflection of our steadfast commitment to enhancing regional security,” Warren said about the exercise.
Last week the Pentagon announced that approximately 600 soldiers from the Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy to Poland and the Baltic states in October for a three-month series of land warfare training exercises.
The First Cavalry will bring M-1 Abrams tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carrier for the exercises, according to the Defense Department.