November 12, 2015 (by TSgt. Christopher Baldwin) - 187th Fighter Wing F-16s, approximately 150 Airmen and nearly 40 tons of support equipment from the 187th Fighter Wing Airmen have returned from a training mission in Campia Turzii, Romania.
Alabama ANG F-16s descend into Campia Turzii, Romania on October 13th, 2015 after flying from Montgomery IAP. Four F-16s and approximately 150 airmen from the 187th FW participated in Dacian Viper, a training deployment to Romania designed to increase readiness to conduct combined air operations and to meet future security challenges. [USAF photo by SSgt. Matthew Bruch]
As part of the deployment, the U.S. and Romanian air forces worked together to enhance interoperability and increase readiness in the event of combined air operations.
The 187th Fighter Wing, 100th Fighter Squadron flew the F-16 alongside the Romanian's 71st Air Base's MiG-21 Lancer fighter aircraft to further strengthen relations and build on both nations' joint capabilities and ensuring a stronger partnership.
"We are always thrilled to capitalize on every opportunity to work with our NATO
allies," said Col. Len Borowoski, operations group commander at the 187th Fighter Wing. "These training missions produce big dividends for the U.S. and Romanian pilots and go a long way in strengthening the strategic NATO partnership with Romania.
The Alabama National Guard has partnered with Romania since 1993 as part of the State Partnership Program, which pairs Guard units with different nations to improve both military and civil understanding and cooperation. Romania subsequently became a member country of NATO in 2004.
Romania's Oct. 2013, purchase of 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters from Portugal
will allow Romania to operate NATO-compatible aircraft. The purchase also includes the training of pilots and technicians, to be undertaken partly in the U.S. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2016, with all 12 to be handed over by 2017 to equip a single squadron.
"This is an exciting time to be working with the Romanian Air Force and we look forward to training with these pilots when their F-16s are delivered," said Lt. Col. Doyle Pompa.
Pompa commands the active duty squadron of pilots assigned to the base and was responsible for coordinating every aspect of this training mission.
"Although there were some logistical challenges leaving Montgomery because we had to plan around Hurricane Joaquin, the professionalism and proficiency of our total force team was evident. As expected, we made the necessary adjustments to safely and efficiently accomplish the mission and by the time we landed in Romania, it was business as usual."
Once in Romania, the Wing's 100th Fighter Squadron participated in training flights to enhance interoperability with NATO allies. This exercise began with common flight and training activities. The aerial missions also allowed for an exchange of experience on tactics, techniques, and procedures for basic fighter maneuvers, air combat maneuvers, intelligence, tactical command, and cross service logistics support.
As the exercise progressed, the training became more integrated and complex. The final days of the exercise focused on combined air operations, in which US forces partnered with Romania pilots to exercise common air operations procedures.
During the exercise, 100th Fighter Squadron pilots were allowed to fly in the back seat of the MiG-21Ls and Romanian fighter pilots were allowed to fly in the back seat of the F-16s.
"From a maintenance aspect, this was a great opportunity to share our philosophy and standards for keeping our jets in optimal condition and assist the Romanian Air Force in their transition to the F-16," said Lt. Col. Adrian Meyer.
Meyer, the maintenance squadron commander, led the largest supporting element of personnel required to accompany the jets to Romania.
"The entire maintenance team both at home station and deployed performed flawlessly and achieved a 97.8% "code 1" rate," Meyer also noted.
A "code 1" rating identifies and aircraft as having no deficiencies and allows the aircraft to resume flight, ultimately shortening the overall maintenance turn time of the aircraft.
Another highlight of the exercise was the visit of multiple distinguished visitors during an open house event.
Deputy Secretary General of NATO, U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow and U.S. Ambassador to Romania, Hans Klemm attended the event along with several Romanian distinguished visitors, including Romania's Minister of Defense.
"Exercises like this one embody the transatlantic bond that exists between Europe and North America and the commitment of the NATO alliance to uphold the security and the integrity of all NATO allies," said Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, who traveled from Belgium
to support the event.
Romania's Minister of Defense, Mircea Duşa and the U.S. Ambassador to Romania flew orientation flights in the back seat of a pair of F-16s just prior to making remarks to the Romanian media attending the open house.
Following Ambassador Klemm's backseat flight, he commented, "The American pilot can teach you a great deal about the F-16," said Ambassador Hans Klemm. "We plan to teach you everything we know about this fighting platform so that when we deploy together, the United States and Romania, there is little to no difference between our capabilities."
Col. Len Borowski, summed up the deployment, "Overall, this was a very productive mission, every deployment experience is an opportunity to increase our warfighting capacity. It's always rewarding to successfully accomplish the mission and get everyone back home safely. In the meantime, we'll take the time to regenerate, professionally and personally, and prepare for what's next."