A dozen F-16C Fighting Falcons and more than 250 airmen from the Air Force Reserve’s 301st Fighter Wing have deployed to Campia Turzii, Romania, to respond to regional threats as the 457th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, the latest Theater Security Package under Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The 457th Fighter Squadron, out of Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, will conduct the deterrence and partnership-building rotation — also known as “Dacian Viper 19” — through the end of July.
“The Theater Security Package here in Romania has three primary functions,” said Lt. Col. Josh Padgett, 457th EFS commander, in an Air Force news release. “One, we are here to deter any regional aggression; two, we are looking to strengthen our NATO alliances; and three, we want to build relationships with our local hosts here in Romania.”
The F-16 aircrews, who flew their first training sorties Wednesday, will conduct tactical training with Romanian pilots, who fly MiG-21 fighters. The training will also give Romanian joint terminal attack controllers an opportunity to work with Air Force pilots.
“As a matter of training, we expect to approach both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions together,” said Comandor Călin Hulea, squadron commander, 71st Air Base, Romanian air force, in the release. “The F-16s plan to go to Romanian training ranges to utilize the targets there for practice, but the main focus will be on tactical intercept, air combat maneuvering, and visual flight rules.”
During TSP 19.1, U.S. airmen will also take part in several multinational exercises with NATO partners including Astral Knight, Saber Guardian, Swift Response, and Decisive Strike, according to the release.