Bezmer Air Base is one of the few military bases run by the United States of America in Bulgaria. It is located in the Yambol area, only 10 km away from Yambol and closer to Bolyarsko. The main connection with this base is through one of the most important railways in Bulgaria, connecting Burgas with Sofia. The base is named according to the close village of Bezmer, which was also named after a Bulgarian ruler from the seventh century – Khan Bezmer. The military base is located in the southeastern part of the country.
The current air base has a long history. It is considered to be in a very strategical location due to its proximity to the Black Sea, Russia and the Middle East. At the same time, the weather conditions are excellent for year round activities, with relatively hot summers and mild winters. Its first use was during World War I. The official German forces took over Yambol and decided to build the base for its zeppelins. The zeppelins were used for reconnaissance missions first of all. As the war went deeper, they were used to drop bombs to Russia, Malta, Romania and Sudan.
The place maintained its military purposes during World War II. As the war ended, it was taken over by the Bulgarian forces. The 22 Fighter Air Regiment was sent to secure the area and establish there. The regiment went through a few name changes over the years, ending with hosting the popular Su 25 Frogfoot aircraft, as well as two other planes used for reconnaissance missions – Su 22 UM 3 K and Su 22 M 4. Over the years, the base was part of a few popular exercises in the area, in a tight collaboration with the forces from Romania, Turkey and France, such as the Immediate Response 2005 and 2006.
The American history of this base starts in 2006, after the United States of America and Bulgaria signed a defensive agreement that allowed the Americans to establish four bases in the area. This is one of them. Prior to this agreement, the base went through a lot of improvements and upgrades in the navigational and communicational systems. These days, it is going through a second round of updates, this time from the Americans.
According to a few experts, Bezmer Air Base is the sixth most important and advanced US military facility outside the USA territory. That is because its strategical location and its possibility to store long range aircrafts.
There aren’t too many units hosted on site. Besides, most of them are deployed there for short periods of time, so no one can name a permanent squadron or unit. What is known is that there are about 2500 American troops constantly hosted at these 4 new American bases in Bulgaria.
The troops may be hosted both on site and off site. The US government recommends the on site system, since there is plenty of room for everybody. However, the troops are not allowed to bring in their families with them at Bezmer Air Base, whether they are regular soldiers or superiors.