Strike Eagles return to Bulgaria and Romania for second forward dispersals of Castle Forge


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U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, have returned to Borcea Air Base, Romania, and Graf Ignatievo AB, Bulgaria, for the second phase of forward dispersals supporting operation Castle Forge, a U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa-led joint, multinational training event that demonstrates Agile Combat Employment.

Castle Forge is designed to exercise the agility and rapid movement of air power to forward locations, raising the U.S. commitment to NATO allies in the Black Sea region while demonstrating the alliance’s combined ability to respond with a flexible, reassuring presence.

The Strike Eagles initially arrived at Larissa AB, Greece, Oct. 6 for training alongside F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Hellenic Air Force. From Oct. 18-22, they operated from Graf Ignatievo AB, Bulgaria and Borcea AB, Romania, for the first forward dispersal phase of Castle Forge. After returning to Larissa AB, cooperation has expanded over the last week to include cooperation with the Hellenic navy supporting the entry of the U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) into the Black Sea on a routine patrol. Training will continue in Romania and Bulgaria for the next several days.

“Castle Forge is one of the best opportunities we’ve had to test how we deliver air power from locations with varying levels of capacity and support,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA and NATO Allied Air Command. “As this operation continues, we are increasing the complexity, speed, and flexibility of our movements – and we’re doing it with our allies – because that’s exactly the way we would fight if called upon.”

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