Sofia, Bulgaria --
Bulgarian media representatives from Military TV Channel, Free Europe Bulgaria, Capital Weekly, Nova TV, bTV and Bulgaria National Television participated in two media orientation flights during air refueling missions. The participants flew aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker refueling aircraft, assigned to the 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, June 14 and 21, 2019 in Bulgaria during exercise Saber Guardian 19.
The refueling flights began at Sofia Airport, Bulgaria, and flew over Romania, where media were able to view the refueling of a C-17 Globemaster III, assigned to the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard, June 14, 2019. During the second media flight, June 21, 2019, they were able to witness the refueling of F-16C Fighting Falcons assigned to the 457th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 301st Fighter Wing, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas.
Exercise Saber Guardian is a multinational exercise under U.S. European Command’s Joint Exercise Program (JEP). It enhances joint and combined interoperability across a variety of mission sets between Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, the U.S., NATO allies, and Partnership for Peace nations.
The combined training opportunities that the exercise provides greatly improve interoperability among participating allies and partners.
“This is an opportunity to invite the Bulgarian media onto a Tennessee KC-135 on a refueling platform,” said Lt. Col. John T. Rojas, bilateral affairs officer, U.S. Embassy. “One particular flight just happens to be fueling F-16s, and currently Bulgaria is considering purchasing the F-16 as a multirole fighter in order to meet their Nato commitments.”
The flights promote regional stability and security, while increasing readiness, strengthening partner capabilities and fostering trust.
“We promote strengthening of our partnership capabilities and highlighting Tennessee and Bulgaria’s 26-year State Partnership, while also providing the media access to a United States Air Force refueling operation,” said Master Sgt. Bo Rogers, boom operator with the 134th ARW.
Tennessee and Bulgaria are “sister states” in the Joint Department of Defense State Partnership Program. The State Partnership Program, which is managed by the National Guard, links a state’s National Guard with the partner nation’s military/security forces in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.