USAF fighter aircraft take part in major exercises around Europe

Astral Knight 2020 exercise
US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, KC-135 Stratotanker and Polish Air Force F-16 fighters fly in formation during Astral Knight 2020 exercise.

Over the past few weeks, the USAF has deployed different types of fighter jets in Poland and Bulgaria to participate in the Astral Knight 2020 and Thracian Viper 2020 exercises.

ASTRAL KNIGHT 2020 (Sept. 14-25)

Astral Knight 2020 is a joint, multinational exercise involving Airmen and Soldiers from the United States working with allies from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Sweden. The exercise is an integrated air and missile defense exercise focused on conducting defense of key terrain. Training involves a combination of flight operations and computer-assisted scenarios.

The Astral Knight 2020 includes U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle, KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-10 Extender, E-3 Sentry and B-52 Stratofortress aircraft, as well as Polish Air Force F-16, SU-22 and Mi-17 aircraft.

This year's edition follows last year's successful one, which marked a large deployment of USAF F-35 fighters in Europe.

Astral Knight 2020 exercise

Astral Knight 2020 exercise

Astral Knight 2020 exercise

THRACIAN VIPER 2020 (Sept. 14-25)

Thracian Viper 2020 is a multilateral exercise organized by the Bulgarian Air Force at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria with the participation of several aircraft from four allied air forces.

The exercise includes increasingly complex activities aimed at improving the ability of participating air forces to rapidly deploy to remote locations and take command and control of the region as well as training the Bulgarian Army units to protect territory and infrastructure against air threats.

The TV20 involves USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 555th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano AFB, Italy, and Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 and L-39 jets, which are deployed at Graf Ignatievo AB.

In addition, Hellinic Air Force F-16s, Romanian Air Force F-16 and MiG-21 fighters and Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornets – currently based in Romania under NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission – are also taking part in the exercise, flying in from their respective home bases.

Thracian Viper 2020 exercise

Thracian Viper 2020 exercise

Thracian Viper 2020 exercise

Thracian Viper 2020 exercise

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: USAF