Bulgaria has its first F-16 pilot
At a ceremony in the 162nd Squadron of the US Air Force, Captain Alexander Velinov was recognized as the first Bulgarian pilot to undergo the initial training course for flying an F-16.
Although the ceremony was modest and informal, the results were enormous.
Bulgaria signed a contract in early 2020 for the purchase of the F-16 aircraft with expected delivery in 2023. Captain Velinov was chosen as one of the four pilots to take a specialized English language course before completing the entire training course in the United States.
“We are proud of Captain Velinov and the entire Bulgarian aviation,” said Brigadier General Jeffrey Butler, commander of the 162nd Squadron. “Their training here in Arizona strengthens both the European Union and the NATO alliance,” he said.
F-16 should replace the old Bulgarian MiG-29 fighters.
“When I return to Bulgaria, the F-16 will be a brand new aircraft for the country, so it depends on the first pilots to be trained in the United States to build the foundation and set a high standard of work. As Bulgaria plans to move to the F-16 as soon as possible, my training in Tucson is vital,” said Captain Velinov.
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