More than 180 Airmen from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and 12 F-15C Eagles flew to Graf Ignatievo Air Base, near Plovdiv, Bulgaria, to participate in a bilateral training event, Thracian Eagle 2014, Aug. 18-Sep. 1.

Pilots from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, maintainers and a mixture of other professions, including Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, are in Bulgaria to improve joint readiness and reassure regional allies and partners.

“We are here to demonstrate our commitment and resolve to our NATO partners,” said Lt. Col. John Stratton, 493rd FS commander. “Conducting these bilateral training events helps us strengthen our relationships and improve capabilities.”

The number one expectation is to conduct bilateral flying operations like professional aviators and gain a better understanding of each other’s capabilities and limitations, continued Stratton.

“We are going to fly and work together to exchange experience and improve interoperability between our two countries,” said Bulgarian Brig. Gen. Ivan Lalov, Graf Ignatievo Air Base commander during an opening ceremony. “As the commander, it is my pleasure to welcome you. I wish all of you successful training and safe flights. Let our exercise begin!”