The first five Dutch aircraft have landed in Fetesti, Romania, at the European F-16 Training Centre.
Romania has been, since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the front line of the democratic coalition that included the United States, the European Union and NATO, which condemned the illegal and unjustified war launched by Russia and promptly acted in support of the authorities in Kyiv. Bucharest provided humanitarian aid to refugees from the neighboring country, but also military support and played a major role in facilitating the transit of Ukrainian grain to the West European market, after the sea route became unsafe.
On a military level, Romania will host, at the Feteşti air base, in the south, the European F-16 Training Center, established as a result of the collaboration between the Ministry of National Defense, through the Romanian Air Force, and the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, through Royal Netherlands Air Force, in partnership with the Lockheed Martin Company and with the support of Denmark, as coordinating state, along with the Netherlands, of the international F-16 Coalition. Five such aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, landed on Tuesday at the air base in Fetesti. According to the Romanian Foreign Ministry, the center will be an international hub for the training of F-16 aircraft pilots and will enhance interoperability among allies. By establishing the European F-16 Training Center, Romania is committed to providing a high-quality training environment, with access to state-of-the-art technical resources and know-how, not only for Romanian pilots, but also for pilots from allied states and partners, including Ukraine. Romania thus joins other allied nations, such as Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Great Britain, in supporting the training of Ukrainian pilots for the future use of F-16 aircraft.
The center will help create common operational standards and strengthen the capacity of the North Atlantic Alliance to deal with the complex challenges in the Black Sea region and in Eastern Europe. In keeping with the collaboration agreement, the Romanian Ministry of Defense makes available the 86th Air Base in Feteşti, training facilities and the support of the host country, the Royal Netherlands Air Force provides F-16 aircraft, and Lockheed Martin provides instructors and maintenance. The centre will also contribute to speeding up the training of Romanian pilots, in the context in which the Romanian Army prepares to receive 32 F-16 aircraft, recently purchased from Norway. Given the current geopolitical context and Romania's strategic position in the Black Sea region, this center becomes critical for cross-border collaboration, strengthening security and reinforcing solidarity within NATO, the Defense Ministry said. (EE)