Bulgarian Air Force Commander Flew Crashed MiG 29 Jet Day EalierDefense | May 2, 2012, Wednesday // 16:18| views
Maj. Gen. Konstantin Popov, Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian Air Force. Photo by BGNES
Maj. Gen. Konstantin Popov, Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian Air Force, flew the very same MiG 29 fighter jet which went down of April 26, 2012, during joint drills with the US Air Force.
This has been confirmed by Popov himself on Wednesday, almost a week after the incident which took place during the Thracian Star 2012 exercises, as cited by Darik Radio.
Commenting on the various guesses in the Bulgarian press that the incident might have been caused by a leakage of the fuel tank of the fighter jet, Popov recommended patience so that the report of the special commission investigating the case can be issued.
Later on Wednesday, Bulgarian Defense Minister Anyu Angelov said the crash was caused by a pilot's mistake, citing a preliminary issue of the investigation report.
The crash of the Bulgarian MiG 29, in which the two pilots survived by bailing out, while also managing to direct the fighter jet away from populated areas, led the Bulgarian authorities to cancel the VIP Visitors' Day at the Thracian Star 2012 drills that was supposed to be held on Friday, April 26, 2012.
During the brief absence, as it has emerged, of the Bulgarian Air Force from the drills, the US Air Force continued its schedule training in Southern Bulgaria as part of Thracian Star 2012.
The Bulgarian MiG-29 aircraft plummeted into a river earlier on Thursday between the southern villages of Tsarimir and Golyam Chardak near Plovdiv.
As of April 28, 2012, the Bulgarian military aviation is back in the Thracian Star drills with Su-25 planes.
On April 19, the air forces of the USA and Bulgaria started the most large-scale military aviation drills of their type entitled "Thracian Star 2012".
The drills at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base near the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv are conducted jointly by the Bulgarian Air Force, the Romanian Air Force, and the 31st Force Support Squadron stationed at the Aviano Air Base, a NATO Air Base under US Air Force administration in northeastern Italy.
Because of the large number of US F-16 fighter jets participating in the drills – two squadrons of 16 planes each – Bulgarian media have been quick to note that the Aviano Air Base has moved to Graf Ignatievo.
The Thracian Star 2012 drills taking place between April 17 and May 11, 2012, feature Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29, MiG-21, Su-25, and Spartan C-27J planes; US Air Force F-16s, and Romanian Air Force MiG-21s.
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