Home » 2018 » August » 27 » US could bring the MQ-9 drones to the base at Campia Turzii. The Americans have invested a billion dollars
By Edwig Ban
The US Air Force has built a hangar at 71 Aircraft Base at Câmpia Turzii/Romania, which could be used to host the plane with no pilot MQ-9 Reapers and support intelligence gathering operations in Eastern Europe and the area Black Sea, writes Defense News.
The US Air Force in Europe refused to comment if they have concrete plans to start the MQ-9 operation from Campia Turzii in the near future, but the new facility could pave the way for the first deployment of these unmanned airplanes in Romania.
"As a policy, we do not speculate on the potential developments or future movements of aviation units. The US Air Force in Europe is currently conducting flight movements across Europe to familiarize with the ground, train and support command objectives, "said Captain Nathan Czuba, Program Manager for the European Disposal Initiative, in a statement.
According to a U.S. Air Forces Europe, which lists construction projects at Campia Turzii, the new 950-million-dollar hangar will be able to accommodate medium altitude drones, probably of the MQ-9 type, the only unmanned MALE airplane system in service, respecting 'everyone safety requirements' required for unmanned operations.
On the occasion of a base trip in July, Defense News reporter saw the hangar finalized, just a few months after construction was over.
It was erected by a team of eight US Air Force personnel between October 2017 and May 2018, said Brigadier General Roy Agustin, US Logistics Director Air Forces, in an interview on July 31.
Even though the US Air Force remains silent as to when the MQ-9 could take place in Romania, it seems likely that it is only a matter of time before the Reapers drone will start operating from the Turzii Plain, now that the necessary infrastructure it was built.
Air Force has clearly expressed its interest in strengthening its intelligence, surveillance and recognition operations in Eastern Europe.
In May, the US Air Force began operating MQ-9 drones at Poland's Miroslawiec base, but made very little information about it, indicating only that the drones are not equipped with weapons and are used only for information gathering missions, surveillance and recognition.
Most likely, Air Force will use the MQ-9 drones deployed in Romania to monitor the Black Sea, which, according to Jim Townsend, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense between 2008 and 2017, is under increasing pressure due to consolidation Russia's naval presence, given the reduced capacity of the Romanian and Bulgarian military marines to discourage it.
The Reaper, manufactured by General Atomics, can be equipped with missiles for combat missions, but can also be deployed in a configuration for mission-gathering, surveillance, and recognition tasks.
If it is deployed in Romania, MQ-9 would have launched and recovered at Turzii Plain by US military staff there.
The MQ-9's sensors could be used to provide a real-time image of Russian Black Sea activities - what ships come in and out, submarine activity, transport of sensors or air defense equipment such as the S-400 near Russian coast - especially near the Crimea, and could provide early alerts on hostile activities, Townsend said.
"I think the signal to the Russians is that both NATO and the United States consider the Black Sea to be equally important in terms of stability and discouragement, and we consider the Black Sea as important as the Baltic," he added.
The Major Cosmin Tănase, head of the Romanian Support Office at the Aegean Base 71, told Defense News in July that this military construction at Câmpia Turzii highlights the cooperation between the US and Romanian armies. "This project is a sign that you really want to develop the relationship you have here in Romania," he stressed.
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