Cooperative Key 2005

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COOPERATIVE KEY 2005 - Exercise bases Graf Ignatievo and Krumovo

From the 24th of August through the 5th of September 2005

(with live flying taking place August 27 through September 4)


NATO members

  • Bulgaria - (An-26, MiG-21bis, MiG-29A/UB, L-39ZA, Su-25K/UBK, Mi-17, Mi-24V and PC-9)

  • Canada

  • Estonia

  • Greece - (opposition aircraft: A-7s from homebase Araxos)

  • Hungary - (Mi-17)

  • Latvia - (Mi-8MTV-1)

  • Lithuania - (Mi-8MTV-1 and An-26B)

  • Poland - (Mi-8RL)

  • Romania - (IAR-330SOCAT and C-130B)

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia - (PC-9M and AS532AL)

  • Turkey - (AS532AL and F-16s from homebase as opposition aircraft)

  • USA - (HH-60G Pave Hawk from 56RQS)

Partnership for Peace (PfP) members

  • Albania

  • Azerbaijan

  • Croatia - (Mi-8MTV-1)

  • Georgia

  • Macedonia - (Mi-24V)

  • Moldavia - (Mi-8MTV-1)

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

  • Ukraine - (IL-76MD)

Mediterranean Dialogue partners

  • Jordan

  • Mauritania


  • Russian Federation


The multinational exercise is designed to enhance interoperability of NATO and partner nation air forces through cooperation and familiarization of the organization's procedures. Cooperative Key, first conducted in 1996, is designed as a combination air exercise, command post and live exercise. Allied Component Command headquarters Izmir is conducting the exercise.

"This exercise affords us a great opportunity to practice peace support operations in a combined scenario," said Lt. Col. Jim Fike, NATO medical exercise director and 401st Expeditionary Medical Squadron commander. “It’s a chance for our people, no matter what their rank or specialty, to work with their counterparts from other nations and gain invaluable experience while bolstering our NATO capabilities.

“In any exercise you get unit and individual training, but on a bigger scale is the ability to exercise in a larger coalition environment,” Colonel Fike said. “It’s a chance for operators to find out things that are and aren’t compatible.”

The exercise primarily takes place at two air bases in the central region of Bulgaria -- Graf Ignatievo and Krumovo. The scenario, involving about 1,650 servicemembers and more than 60 aircraft, focuses on an ongoing mandated NATO peace support operation. Two fictional former warring factions are in an unstable peace. A NATO-led peace support operation with partner nation participation is in place to enforce the peace and provide humanitarian assistance.

Besides to the 21 participating nations, nine other nations will act as observers. For several of the nations, this is their first time participating in this exercise since becoming members of NATO.

“Bulgaria has the honor for the third time to (hold) the international exercise Cooperative Key. This is a clear expression for us of the successful integration processes in the international security system,” said Bulgarian air force Maj. Gen. Simeon Simeonov, Bulgarian air force headquarters chief of staff. “The exercise is a high responsibility for us being a full NATO member. Such exercises are very useful for everyone and they are a step forward to close relations and friendship among our countries.”

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, visited Krumova Air Base on the 2nd of September 2005.

Photo galleries

We thank "Allied Component Command headquarters Izmir" for their great support to make these visits possible. The hospitality at Graf Ignatievo and Krumovo was great. We have forgotten the names of all the persons who have helped us with all our wishes, everything was possible and done very friendly.

The authors: Volkert Jan van den Berg, Marinus Dirk Tabak and Joop de Groot.

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