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The Romanians Believed Till Now That the F-16 Would Not Be Able to Take Off In Winter, And This Says a Lot About the Country’s Air Defense

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Romanian F-16 / Photo credits: Bogdan Pantilimon
Romanian F-16 / Photo credits: Bogdan Pantilimon

Being part of NATO does not automatically mean high standards of maintenance and combat readiness

For Ukraine, the fact that the Romanian Air Force has taken rare MiG-21Rs into the air to intercept russia’s Kalibrs seems paradoxical, even though it is an Alliance country.

But in one of the articles in late January 2023, DefenseRomania tells about an even more paradoxical fact: some Romanian military still believed that the F-16 fighter could not take off in winter even from prepared airfields, and this stereotype has been going on since 2018.

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Although, as the authors explain, this stereotype started from a rather false premise. Indeed, there was an episode in December 2018, when an F-16 fighter jet failed to take off from the 86th Borc Air Base to participate in the Romanian National Day parade. But the reason was not because "the plane is bad".

The Romanians Believed Till Now That the F-16 Would Not Be Able to Take Off In Winter, And This Says a Lot About the Country’s Air Defense, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
Romanian F-16 / Photo credits: U.S.Air Force

The reason was because the airfield services did not give permission for the departure, as the airfield technicians could not properly clear the runway of ice. However, no one began to get into the details, and this is how a stereotype was born, which successfully "lived" in the environment of the Romanian Air Force until the beginning of 2023.

It is interesting that such a specific episode was mentioned in the context of the fact that from the end of 2023, the Romanian Air Force is preparing its F-16s for another rotation as part of NATO's air police mission to protect the Baltic states. The rotation is scheduled for April-July 2023.

It turns out that the preparation will take about 6 months for the four-month mission. And this says a lot both about the algorithm of procedures within the framework of the Alliance itself, and about the level of combat training of the Romanian Air Force.

The Romanians Believed Till Now That the F-16 Would Not Be Able to Take Off In Winter, And This Says a Lot About the Country’s Air Defense, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
Romanian F-16 / Illustrative photo from open sources

Also, the following thing speaks about combat training algorithms in the Air Force of Romania. In one of its publications already at the beginning of February 2023, DefenseRomania said that the Ministry of Defense of Romania and Portugal are negotiating on the training of Romanian pilots and technicians to work on the F-16, precisely in 2023 the Romanians hope to receive the first of 32 fighters of this type that had been purchased in Norway at the end of 2021.

The Romanians Believed Till Now That the F-16 Would Not Be Able to Take Off In Winter, And This Says a Lot About the Country’s Air Defense, Defense Express, war in Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war
Romanian F-16 / Photo credits: Romanian Air Force

It turns out that Romania managed to “book” and buy three dozen used fighters, but was not able to build its own vertical training of flight and technical staff in a few years.

The things described above tell a lot about the state of affairs in the Romanian Air Force as a member of NATO. And at the same time, they point out that belonging to the Alliance does not mean that (any) country automatically maintains a high level of combat training and maintenance of its equipment, both aircraft and other types of weapons.

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