The Royal Netherlands Air Force is sending two 5th-generation F-35 fighters to Bulgaria in April and May to support NATO’s air policing activities in the Black Sea region, BGNES reported.
“All efforts are aimed at de-escalating the situation in Ukraine through dialogue and diplomacy. Ultimately, this is in the interests of all parties involved. At the same time, it is important to be prepared for the unwanted scenario in which negotiations fail, “said Kaisa Olongren, the Dutch defense minister, quoted by the agency.
The country’s armed forces plan to deploy two of their modern F-35 fighters and support staff in Bulgaria as part of NATO’s reinforced Air Policing mission.
This is the first time such invisible radars have been sent to Air Policing in an allied country. At the moment it is not clear in which Bulgarian air base the stealth planes will be located.
The Netherlands is the first ally to use 5th generation fighters in this mission in Southeast Europe. The fighters have made a huge contribution to NATO’s collective defense, authorities said.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets have been assisting NATO Air Force over the Benelux area with the Belgian Air Force since 2017. The Netherlands is leading the NATO Air Force in the Baltic Sea.
More than 60 NATO aircraft across Europe are in constant combat readiness at all times in the so-called Air Policing. They are ready to respond to undeclared military flights, as well as to help civilian planes that lose communication with air traffic controllers for some reason – from technical problems to possible hijacking. NATO has two air operations centers – one in Germany, which covers northern Europe, and one in Spain, which monitors all flights in Europe.