RAMSTEIN, Germany - Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 fighter jets have taken up their NATO Air Policing duties at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base and will be securing the skies alongside the Romanian Air Force for the coming four months.
Six Royal Canadian Air Force's CF-188 fighters and personnel from Canada's Armed Force Air Task Force-Romania (ATF-R) deployed to Romania in early August 2022. This is the seventh time that Canada has deployed an ATF to Romania on Operation Reassurance since 2014.
During an official ceremony on August 4, marking the beginning of the CF-18 mission, Lieutenant General Fernando de la Cruz, Commander of NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Torrejón, Spain, presented the Mission Ready Certificate to is Lieutenant Colonel Stephan Latwaitis, ATF Detachment Commander, confirming Team Canada has been fully trained and qualified to accomplish the NATO mission.
This is a clear example of the spirit of cooperation and solidarity we share in the Alliance
General de la Cruz underscored the symbolic meaning of the enhanced Air Policing mission that displays Alliance cohesion and the transatlantic link binding Allies together. "Thank you to both nations, Canada and Romania, for enabling this activity that shows one more time that NATO is a strong Alliance where no member nation ever stands alone," said General de la Cruz. "The Canadian detachment from North America is ready to take responsibilities, together with the Romanian Air Force, for the Air Policing mission over this part of south eastern Europe," he added.
The Royal Canadian Air Force pilots from the 425th Squadron, will fly quick reaction alert and training missions alongside Romanian fighter pilots. All missions are fully integrated into the Romanian defence system and NATO's integrated air and missile defence system. Missions are controlled by the Control and Reporting Centre in Moara Vlăsiei, tactically commanded by the CAOC in Spain and overseen by NATO´s Allied Air Command in Germany.
"This is a clear example of the spirit of cooperation and solidarity we share in the Alliance," said General de la Cruz. "Today we are facing a new threat after Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. NATO reacted promptly, taking quick, decisive actions and providing a common voice to defend our nations; thereby, showing the unity of the Alliance. Since then, we have increased the level of Vigilance Activities over the NATO skies in this part of Europe," he concluded.
"The Canadian Armed Forces are proud to participate in cooperative defence activities in support of NATO enhanced Air Policing in Romania," said Lieutenant Colonel Stephan Latwaitis, ATF Detachment Commander. "Canada is a strong supporter of NATO; by deploying an Air Task Force to Romania Canada is committed to doing its part to fulfill NATO Air Policing and to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Eastern and Central Europe with the aim of reassuring nations in the region of NATO's intent to support their stability and security," he added.
One element of this response has been the Air Shielding missions Allied Air Command, both CAOCs and the Allies have conducted along the eastern flank. The Canadian fighter aircraft will be integrated in this effort flying together with aircraft from the Romanian fighter squadrons and the F-16s from the United States currently stationed at Fetesti Air Base here in Romania. In the country, the Air Shielding posture includes the French Surface-Based Air Defence System deployed, to contribute to the defence of Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base.
"Today my appreciation goes to the Romanian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force including all of your personnel, for the high level of commitment that has allowed this enhanced Air Policing and the Air Shielding mission to happen this area," General de la Cruz said in conclusion.