Three Air Force C-130Js and about 70 support personnel from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, forward deployed to Bulgaria on July 10 to train with NATO partners. During the two-week Thracian Summer exercise, the airmen conducted low-level flight and airdrop training with partner forces, according to a US Air Forces in Europe release. Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of the 3rd Air Force, said the exercise allows the airmen to hone their skills alongside NATO allies in a realistic training environment. “We train with our allies and partners every day because you cannot surge trust,” he said. “You cannot just show up to the championship game without hours on the practice field.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.