The USAF’s 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron’s Warthogs will integrate with MiG-21 Fishbed fighters from the Forţele Aeriene Române‘s 71st Air Base, conducting training to increase goodwill and interoperability while strengthening the bond between the two nations. Both commands will be flying together over central Transylvania for Exercise Dacian Thunder 2015.
Approximately two hundred Airmen and their support equipment from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, and the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, will participate in the exercises as a combat capable force able to respond to a wide variety of threat contingencies.
The Hogs will then forward deploy to locations in to reassure Eastern European NATO countries as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. According to U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Tom Jones, Vice Commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA, “the TSP is another way the Air Force is increasing rotational presence in Europe to reassure our allies and partner nations that our commitment to European security is a priority.”
A Theater Security Package serves as part of a routine deployment of additional combat air forces assets, support personnel, and equipment aimed to bolster U.S. forces in Europe on a rotating basis.
“The men and women of the 354th EFS are excited to train and integrate with the Romanian air force, specifically the 71st Air Base here at Campia Turzii,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Steven Behmer, 354th EFS commander. “Our intent is to make clear that the United States is committed to the security and stability of Eastern Europe and that we are committed to standing side-by-side with our NATO allies.”
Training events like this have been conducted in Romania in the past, including the recent Dacian Warhawk 2015 between the Romanian Air Force and the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron assigned to Spangdahlem, as well as the previous Dacian Thunder with A-10s in 2012.
“I’m sure we will achieve our objectives, will improve our proficiency to increase the interoperability of our air forces, and that the bonds between the American and Romanian air forces will tighten,” says Romanian air force Commander Marius Oatu, the officer in charge of the 71st Air Base. “Anytime I see the Stars and Stripes anywhere near our national flag, I’m sure that the outcome will be outstanding.”
Well said, sir.