Italian Typhoons train with Bulgarian Mig-29s. Will Eurofighters replace local Fulcrums?

For two days, beginning on Oct. 21, two Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets belonging to the Italian Air Force deployed for the first time ever to Graf Ignatievo in Bulgaria.

Belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing) from Grosseto, the 4.5 Generation aircraft conducted joint training with Soviet-era MiG -29 fighter jets still in service with the Bulgarian Air Force.

The two Typhoons were accompanied by a C -130J Hercules and a total of 35 people including pilots and specialists.

All six planned sorties involving also Bulgarian Fulcrums were successfully launched; overall the Typhoon flew about 15 hours, including the ferry flights to/from Graf Ignatievo.

Graf2

The visit of the Italian Typhoons in Bulgaria had also a “marketing purpose”: following its entry into NATO, Sofia has long been looking for a new fighter jet and Tranche 1 F-2000s of the Italian Air Force could be the most effective solution, especially if compared to (third hand) F-16s or Swedish Gripen C, competitors that have already been deployed to Graf Ignatievo.

According to industry sources, the Italian mission was successful as it demonstrated the aircraft superior operational capabilities as well as its ability to operate from the Bulgarian airabse using ground equipment of Soviet derivation.

Italy is engaged since 2011 in the Eurofighter campaign in Bulgarian Multi Role Fighter (MRF) Program; the initiative is part of a proposed agreement between the governments of Italy and Bulgaria for the supply to the Bulgarian Air Force of nine Eurofighter Tranche 1 with a full package of logistic support and training.

Typhoon taxi

Image credit: via Alenia Aermacchi

H/T to Nikolay Dimov for providing further details about the deployment.

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About David Cenciotti 3733 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.