Reporting From Joint U.S.-Bulgarian Air Force Exercise “Thracian Star”

Emblem of the 31st Fighter Wing (USAF)
Emblem of the 31st Fighter Wing (USAF), based in Aviano, Italy

Next Friday, 27 April, I am going to visit Graf Ignatievo Air Base in central Bulgaria to cover “Thracian Star 2012”, a joint exercise where U.S. and Bulgarian airmen train together to build partnership and increase interoperability.

“Thracian Star 2012” began last Tuesday and will last well into May. Pilots and crews of the 31st Fighter Wing out of Aviano join their Bulgarian counterparts to study each others planes and combat tactics, the Bulgarian MoD announced an average of 40 flights daily during the exercise!

Graf Ignatievo Air Base is about 150 kilometers east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia and normally houses two fighter squadrons of the Bulgarian Air Force, but during the “Thracian Star” the two fighter squadrons of 31st Fighter Wing (510 FS and 555 FS) together with over 500 personnel are also based there.

I expect to get a couple of nice images of F-16C/D as well as MiG-29 and MiG-21 together with some weaponry, and of course some background shots of pilots and plane crews.

Images are available from 27 April evening and later can be viewed (lo-res) on my website (

johann [at]