Half a dozen F-16s from the 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, arrived in Romania on April 29, replacing similar fighters from the 480th EFS that had rapidly deployed to support NATO’s enhanced air policing mission and to deter Russian aggression.
The Aviano jets replace the F-16 Fighting Falcons from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, in the enhanced air policing mission. Spangdahlem’s jets first arrived at Fetesti Air Base, Romania, three months ago as Russia built up its forces around Ukraine and tensions escalated along NATO’s eastern flank.
“The continued presence of U.S. F-16s in the south-east region ensures critical capability for the Air Policing mission and strengthens NATO’s collective readiness,” Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, said in a statement. “Our ability to operate shoulder-to-shoulder with our regional Allies bolsters our collective defense and interoperability across the Eastern flank.”
While in Romania, the Aviano F-16s and crew will work closely with their Romanian counterparts as well as with Italian Typhoons that have been flying in the area since December 2021, according to a USAFE press release.
In addition to Romania, the U.S. has also deployed F-15s and F-35s to Poland in recent months. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unfolded, Russian fighter jets have increasingly tested NATO air space, causing NATO aircraft to scramble in response.