US military bases in Bulgaria

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US military bases in Bulgaria. Map of the Bulgaria with military bases of the United States

Novo Selo Range Army Base in Novo Selo, Bulgaria

Novo Selo Range is one of the most popular and largest military bases in Bulgaria that are operated by the NATO forces. From all the NATO nations sending troops for training on site, the Americans represent the highest population. The second nation with most troops at the base is obviously Bulgaria. The military facility is located close to the Sliven area, in the eastern side. It is very close to the Black Sea and represents an extremely important strategical map on the US military bases map, especially since the United States of America don’t see the Black Sea as a very secure place. That is because the waters are shared by more countries and only a few of them are among the US allies. At the same time, another mission of the base is to increase the NATO popularity in the area. The closest similar base to this one is Bezmer and is operated by the Air Force. This means the two facilities often conduct common operations when needed. All the similar co-bases are run by the Americans under the strict regulations of the Bulgarian government. The Defense Cooperation Agreement also included the total number of potential American troops that could be hosted on the Bulgarian territories. It was signed in 2006.


The history of Novo Selo Range dates back to 1962. It played a very important role throughout the Cold War. It was located relatively close to the Soviet Union. Its proximity to the Black Sea and the wide variety of operations that could be conducted from it made it even better. These days, the place is probably the best area NATO controls in the eastern side of Europe.

Over the years, the base importance and activities dropped as the time passed by. However, since 2008, the United States of America decided to invest a little in the base, especially since they had a clear agreement with the Bulgarians and the place is a strategical spot for the current invasions around the Middle East. The US government invested so far more than $80M in a wide variety of upgrades and improvements in the infrastructure and technologies used on site. The interesting part is that the process is still ongoing, so more money is about to be sent that direction.


The mission of Novo Selo Range is to provide training sessions for tanks and reconnaissance troops, as well as to host various tests with chemical and biological weapons. The base is split according to the temporary tenant units that inhabit it and the training type.


There is no such thing as a permanent unit housed at Novo Selo Range. According to the 2006 agreement between Bulgaria and the USA, the soldiers deployed here must stay for limited periods of time. In other words, the tenant units are in a continuous rotation. They only get here for short term training sessions.

One thing is for sure though – the Bulgarian territories can only host 2500 soldiers at a time in all the bases together. They are also not allowed to bring in their families.

GRAF Ignatievo Air Force Base in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

In the second largest city of Bulgaria, is the country’s pride, which happens to be its primary defense system. Graf Ignatievo Air Base is situated in Garf Ignatievo, a village in Plovdiv. It is a military type airport, located at the elevation of 58 meters, having runways a long as 3000 meters long. Graf Ignatievo is the only fighter air base remaining in Bulgaria. Still, it has many units and sections under it which may be merged with other airfields in future to transform the air base into an even bigger protective force than it already is.

The Third Reich engineers helped extensively in building the air base and for this reason, its popular name in the German aviation society is the German airfield. In 1940, the air base was made ready in all aspects and given to Bulgarian King’s air troops. As we go over its initial days, it is important to mention that the first operation unit in the Graf Ignatievo Air Base was a 2nd Army Aviation Regiment that had four squadrons. One of these squadrons was a Fighter Yato called “Dogan” and was a type of Czechoslovak biplane created before the Second World War.

Another squadron was the Czechoslovakan single engine aircraft for two persons. This is also called the Vrana reconnaissance aircraft. Chaika was a Polish yato at the air base and in addition to these there were more training machines. This machinery and the four squadrons have been the distinctive feature of the Graf Ignatievo Air Base, making it well-known throughout the region.

There was a conversion to Soviet Ilyushin in 1945. The Graf Ignatievo Air Base has gone through a number of stages of dense evolution. It has been given different names for different reasons, and the environment and work conditions along with the facilities and the rules have been changing throughout its history were it has seen the jet age, and then the modern aircrafts. After a series of transformation, the Graf Ignatievo Air Base has achieved its present status and is serving as the primary defense of Bulgaria. It is well equipped and taken care of with the most recent technology available to the country. Apart from that, the life around the Graf Ignatievo Air Base is full of comfort and facilities for the personnel. For example, there are proper medical facilities, adequate living conditions and recreational activities made available to the staff. Since it is the only national defense base, virtually all kinds of exercises and military training occurs here under great supervision d with utmost care.

Today, the air base houses the only fighter squadron and hence is a major defense base of the country. Because it is the only one, it is greatly used by NATO forces and American troops. There is a plan to merge it with another base in order to consolidate American operations. There are relevant recommendations to merge it with the Bezmer airfield and make a larger, more powerful air base to ensure further protection.