The U.S. Air Force announced today that an unspecified number of F-16C Viper fighter jets have deployed to Romania from their base in Germany. The U.S. Army has also disclosed that it sent a contingent of Avenger short-range air defense systems to that country earlier this week.
This is all part of a broader effort to bolster NATO’s force posture along its eastern flank in order to reassure members of the alliance, of which Romania is one, and deter Russia. This comes as American officials, among others, are becoming increasingly apprehensive about the possibility of the Kremlin kicking off a new large-scale military operation against Ukraine in the coming days.
The F-16Cs from the 52nd Fighter Wing based at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany left for Fetesti Air Base in Romania earlier today, according to U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). The Air Force released a number of pictures of the Vipers departing Spangdahlem. Interestingly, they show one of the fighters armed with live AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), as seen at the top of this story, while others are seen carrying inert AIM-120s, as well as AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles, more typically carried during exercises. Having the inert missiles available will be useful for conducting training sorties alongside Romanian F-16s and other NATO aircraft while flying from Fetesti, in addition to being on call in case of contingencies.
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