Bucharest, Romania – The US Air Force Command announced that it will deploy “MQ-9 Reaper” type unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Romania, which is located close to Russia with 90 airmen for “intelligence, observation and reconnaissance missions”.
In the statement made by the US Air Force, it was noted that the vehicles in question will be deployed at the Campia Turzii Air Base in Romania and will be under the management of the 31st Fleet at Aviano Air Base in Italy until the fleet is fully functional.
The statement, which does not share the information about how many MQ-9s will be sent, in addition to their reconnaissance capabilities, the MQ-9s will also support the operation of the “Agile Combat Employment (ACE)”, which envisages fast action with smaller troops newly commissioned by the United States, and It was stated that the MQ-9s would also participate in “free maneuvering missions” against Russia.
The statement said that the UAVs will also participate in exercises in the region, “The presence of the MQ-9 at the front with this deployment reveals the US’s commitment to Europe’s security and stability; it aims to strengthen our relations with NATO allies and other European partners.” statement was included.
“The deployment of the MQ-9s in a forward and combat-ready position assures our partners and allies, while sends a clear message that we can respond very quickly to any threat posed to our enemies, ” General Jeff Harrigian, Commander of the US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, said in a statement.
The US Air Force announced its activities on the Agile Combat Employment in February 2020. With this method, it is aimed that air elements will perform fast operations in small bases and with small-scale forces instead of large bases in a war.
The US Air Force has constructed a hangar at Romania’s 71st Air Base at Campia Turzii, and it could be used to house MQ-9 Reapers and support intelligence-gathering operations around eastern Europe and the Black Sea.
“As a matter of policy, we do not speculate on potential deployments or future aircraft unit movements. US Air Forces in Europe routinely moves a variety of aircraft around Europe for theater familiarization, to conduct training, and support combatant commander objectives,” the US Air Force said in a statement. The MQ-9 Reaper will be hunting targets from the European country’s airspace, but don’t expect a permanent stay.
According to a US Air Forces Europe document listing US Air Force construction projects at Campia Turzii, the new $950,000 hangar will be able to house medium-altitude, long-endurance drones — presumably the MQ-9, the only MALE unmanned aerial system currently in use by the service — while meeting “all the security requirements” necessary for UAS operations.
The US Air Force built this hangar, which could house manned or unmanned aircraft, at Campia Turzii from October 2017 to May 2018. According to documents obtained show plans to build a hangar to accommodate medium-altitude, long-endurance drones like the MQ-9.
The US Air Force built this hangar, which could house manned or unmanned aircraft, at Campia Turzii from October 2017 to May 2018. It was planned to build a hangar to accommodate medium-altitude, long-endurance drones like the MQ-9. It was built by an eight-person team of Air Force engineers from October 2017 to May 2018.
It “could definitely service an MQ-9,” it could also be used to support manned aircraft like the F-15s and A-10s that have been temporarily deployed to Romania over the past several years.
Even though the Air Force is remaining mum about when an MQ-9 deployment to Romania could take place, it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time until the service flies Reapers from Campia Turzii, now that supporting infrastructure has been built.
An MQ-9 Reaper deployment to Romania would probably be greeted with approval by the country and other nearby partner nations like Turkey and Bulgaria.
Certainly, the kind of interest that the Air Force is showing, that the United States is showing, the interest in that area has long been sought by the allies down there . So they’re going to look on this as a very positive development — showing interest, showing capability, providing a little bit of peace of mind so the Air Force has better eyes looking at an area that, up until recently, has been kind of vulnerable.
The Air Force has made clear its interest in beefing up its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance footprint in eastern Europe.
The service began quietly operating MQ-9s from Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland. However, the service has divulged very little information about the deployment, saying only that the drones are unarmed and are used for ISR.
The US Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper drone quietly started flights from Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, but the service isn’t exactly saying why.
The MQ-9 Reaper UAS would not be flown in war zones like Ukraine, as anti-aircraft munitions and surface-to-air missiles supplied by Russia to separatist groups could be employed to take down US Air Force MQ-9s and escalate the conflict.
The US Air Force currently operate in arenas where it has total air supremacy. That’s something the US Air Force would not have in eastern Ukraine.
The Air Force would more likely use MQ-9s based in Romania to monitor the Black Sea, which is becoming increasingly pressurized as Russia beefs up its naval presence there with little competition from the Romanian or Bulgarian navies to deter it.
The Reaper, which is manufactured by General Atomics, can be loaded with missiles for a strike role but can also be deployed in an unarmed configuration for ISR use. If deployed to Romania, the MQ-9 would be launched and recovered at Campia Turzii by US personnel based there. However, for the majority of the mission, it would likely operate stateside by a pilot and sensor operator, who uses the electro-optical/infrared camera as well as a synthetic aperture radar for surveillance.
Those sensors could be used to furnish a real-time picture of Russian activities in the Black Sea — what ships are moving in and out, submarine activity, the transport of sensors or air defense equipment like the S-400 near the Russian coastline, and how all these platforms are exercised — particularly near Crimea.
It also could provide early warning of hostile activities, and gives the Romanian Air Force the chance to interface with drones for the first time as well as increase its situational awareness.
What the signal is for the Russians is that both NATO as well as the United States — the US Air Force considers the Black Sea just as important in terms of stability and in terms as deterrence, that the US Air Force considers the Black Sea area just as important as the Baltics.
The US military construction on base highlights the cooperation between the US and Romanian militaries. This project is a sign that the US Air Force really care and want to develop the relationship it has here in Romania.
Eastern Europe MQ-9 detachment shifts to Romania
The Air Force’s MQ-9 presence in Eastern Europe has moved south again, begins flying in Romania. The MQ-9s are deployed to Miroslawiec AB, Poland, and they have moved to the 71st Air Base at Campia Turzii in Romania. The Reaper presence was last in Romania in the summer of 2019 because of construction at the Polish base.
The MQ-9s mission in Romania is to “support a range of operations on the continent that support NATO allies. This includes cold weather operations and participation in various exercises in the region. The move is in “full cooperation” with the Romanian government, a NATO ally.
Whether the MQ-9s are operating out of Poland or Romania, the mission remains the same: to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of US foreign policy security objectives and those of our regional partners, and valuable force protection data to the US and our international partners.
The MQ-9s will be launched and recovered by US personnel at the Romanian base, and controlled in flight at the Polish base. The detachment first stood up and reached initial operational capability at Miroslawiec in the spring of 2018.
The MQ-9 operation at both locations can keep a close eye on the Balkans and the Black Sea at the Romanian base. The Reapers are contractor-owned and only a “few” in number, which “allows us to have the agility to move” if necessary. It’s a small presence, but a big enough presence that it assures our Polish partners and our Baltic partners of that postured and ready force.