As part of NATO’s efforts to increase surveillance and air presence in the Black Sea region, the U.S. Air Force deployed four F-16C Block 50 Fighting Falcon fighters to the 86th Locotenent Gheorghe Mociorniță Air Base in Borcea, Romania. The North American contingent, which arrived last Friday, the 22nd, consists of 100 soldiers from the 480th Fighter Squadron “Warhawks”.
According to the Romanian Ministry of Defense “…The U.S. military will conduct increased air policing missions as well as joint training missions with military aircraft and the Romanian Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon…”“. Operations of this type help improve response and deterrence capabilities and improve interoperability between the Romanian and U.S. Air Forces.
The images show that the North American F-16s arrived at the Romanian base armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles as well as the EO/IR Litenning II capsule. The peculiarity of the Fighting Falcon of the 480th Fighter Squadron is that they are configured to carry out missions to suppress and destroy anti-aircraft installations, popularly known as “Wild Weasel”.
Strengthening air surveillance in the Black Sea region is part of comprehensive security measures introduced by the Atlantic Alliance following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. To maintain a presence in an increasingly contested space, NATO countries have committed additional air assets to improve air surveillance along NATO’s eastern borders. “…To this end, the Allies are supplementing existing NATO air policing forces in the Baltic states, deploying additional aircraft to Poland and increasing the national air policing capabilities of the Bulgarian and Romanian air forces…”.
Following Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, NATO increased its presence in the eastern part of the alliance, including through new multinational battle groups, an increased air and sea presence and regular surveillance flights.
Regarding the recent deployment of the US Air Force in Romania, NATO spokesman Dylan White said this “…We welcome the United States’ deployment of additional F-16 fighter jets to NATO’s air surveillance mission in Romania…This is a clear message that we will protect all allies.” As Russia continues its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, we experienced a series of attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure very close to NATO territory. “We remain vigilant and are in close contact with allies in the region…”