A formation of US Air Force F-16 fighter jets has arrived in Romania to enhance NATO air policing over the Black Sea.
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Four US Air Force F-16 fighter jets arrived at Romanian Air Force 86th Air Base “Lieutenant Aviator Gheorghe Mociorniță” near the town of Fetesti in Romania on 22 September.
Romania has previously signed a letter of intent with the Netherlands and Lockheed Martin for a European F-16 Training Centre in the country. The facility would allow training of pilots and maintainers.
Earlier this year, Romania also announced intentions to acquire 32 F-16 Fighting Falcon Mid-Life Update Block 10/15 fighter aircraft via a third-party transfer from Norway in a possible US$105 million foreign military sale approved by the US State Department.
Acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White said NATO has reinforced its presence in the eastern part of the alliance including with new multinational battlegroups, more air and maritime presence, and regular surveillance flights, since Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine.
“I welcome the United States’ deployment of additional F-16 fighter jets to NATO’s air policing mission in Romania,” he said.
“This sends a clear message that we will protect every ally.
“As Russia continues its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, we have seen a number of strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure very close to NATO territory.
“We remain vigilant and in close contact with allies in the region.”
Ukraine has also announced intentions to acquire the aircraft, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with Dutch and Danish leadership to negotiate for the donation of a possible 61 F-16 fighter jets in August this year.
More than 3,100 F-16s are in operation internationally across 25 countries and have flown an estimated 19.5 million flight hours and taken part in at least 13 million sorties.
Lockheed Martin officially unveiled the first F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft destined for Europe at its facility in South Carolina earlier this year.