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Operating in the NATO Coalition; Campia-Turzii, September 14, 2015

The Romanian Air Force, part 7; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Since joining NATO in 2004, much has changed for Romania as a country. Romania had in the previous years an extensive preparation before they joined NATO. The Romanians took part in the Baltic Air Policing in 2007. Since the escalations with Russia in 2014, there are also permanent USAF detachments in Campia Turzii.

Since 2004, Romania has like some other former Warsaw Pact countries joined NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military treaty from 1949 which regulates mutual defense and cooperation with the European and North American armies. The NATO was originally mainly founded as a counterforce against the Communistic countries in Eastern Europe. These countries formed on their turn the Warsaw Pact in 1955. The core of the treaty is Article 5, which states that in case of an attack on one of the states in Europe or North America, this will be perceived by others as an attack on all and that all countries will help each other to defend against the aggressor. Since the end of the Cold War NATO has diminished its military importance. NATO was since that moment in a transformation phase in which new tasks such as fighting terrorism, proliferation and anarchy were added to the agenda. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Romania focused its eyes on the West. The military of Romania had launched a program from 1990 which will ensure that the country would become a NATO Member State. Among this trajectory, the program of the MiG-21 LanceR update was a part of the modernization process to eventually join NATO. After a long period of preparations and reforms the country finally became a member of NATO in 2004.

One of the largest detachments in an international collaboration which the Romanians have done was the Baltic Air Policing mission in 2007. Since April 1, 2004, the Baltic States Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are a member of NATO. However, these countries have insufficient military resources to monitor their airspace. To do this properly the Baltic Air Policing was organized which was set up on the Lithuanian Siauliai airbase where continuous NATO detachments are based. These detachments are continuously conducted for a period of a few months by several countries. The NATO countries provide a detachment which is patrolling the Baltic airspace along the borders of

Russia. From August 2007 until the end of October 2007 four Romanian MiG-21 LanceR C aircraft would fly from the Lithuanian airbase Siauliai. The four MiG-21s were from the 71st Air Base Campia Turzii. The four aircraft which flew the Policing missions were supported by a staff of 67 persons including nine pilots. Part of the Romanian staff took place at the air traffic control in Kaunas to support this mission. The participating aircraft were in addition to the fact that they fly patrols also 24 hours a day on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). As of October 31, 2007, the command was transferred to the next detachment to take over the mission. From November 1, the Portuguese Air Force took over from the Romanians with their F-16 Fighting Flacon. How many interceptions have been made by the Romanians during their detachment is unknown. Nevertheless, the Romanian Air Force has demonstrated during the detachment that in a short time the process of becoming a valuable member NATO has been acquired.

Besides the Baltic States, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania are also one of the countries which allow the American detachments due to the tensions between the NATO countries and Russia. Operation Atlantic Resolve is the West's response to the actions in Ukraine, where the Russians are accused of supporting the pro-Russian rebels who wants to separate from Ukraine. All the American units which have been moved to Europe are detached in the context of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Americans want to demonstrate in this way their solidarity with Europe when it comes to their NATO obligations. The American detachments which are based in Romania are generally based at Campia Turzii in the northwest of the country. One of these detachments at the airbase was from July 6, to September 30, 2015. It contained the detachment of the Oregon and Florida Air National Guard. These units flew a total of 12 F-15C Eagles which participated in the exercise Dacian Eagle 2015. During this exercise also another six Romanian MiG-21 LanceR Cs took part and more than 600 American soldiers and another 300 Romanian soldiers took part. Dacian Eagle 2015 continues in the line of the exercises which were held at Campia Turzii and aims to increase the readiness and interoperability of the personnel which is involved. The exercise is an opportunity to practice techniques, tactics and procedures related to air operations in accordance with NATO standards. Later this year, the Romanians will practice again with the Wisconsin ANG and an A-10 unit from the United States.

Besides the detachments of fighter aircraft in Romania, there is at the airbase Mikhail-Kogelnichanu (also designated as MK) also a passenger transition center (Passenger Transit Center, Romania) present. American military passengers can be flown from this terminal to the various mission areas in the Middle East. The transition center is operated by the 21st Theater Sustainment Command at MK. This unit consists of more than 360 troops and supports all operations which are needed to move many soldiers to the crisis areas. Passenger aircraft are coming in from the United States to move troops across the Atlantic. From Mikhail-Kogelnichanu military passengers are flown with military tactical and strategic transport aircraft to the area in which they are detached. Since the opening of the passenger transit center in January 2014, more than 100,000 military personnel have already been moved through this terminal. Since September 22, 2014, there are many units with the necessary staff members who were directly flown to deployment areas to provide quick help over there. The average time which is required to move a lot of manpower to a crisis area is with the help of this terminal about 36 hours. This is compared with the transition center in Kyrgyzstan a significantly improvement. It is an improvement of 12 hours, because it takes more than about 48 hours through that center to move the military forces.

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