MIHAIL KOGĂLNICEANU, Romania
– The Italian Air Force has bedded down their four Eurofighters in a combined effort with Host Nation Romania to continue improvements at Mihail Kogălniceanu air base thereby enhancing NATO Air Policing operations.
Allied detachments' infrastructure upgrade works demonstrate how Allies are cooperating and standing shoulder to shoulder executing the Deter and Defend mission collectively
Mihail Kogălniceanu, one of the bases the nation offers the Alliance for the execution of the enduring collective Air Policing mission, has been undergoing renovations recently with the assistance of other Allies.
"Allied detachments' infrastructure upgrade works at Mihail Kogălniceanu have enabled NATO enhanced Air Policing deployments and demonstrated how Allies are cooperating and standing shoulder to shoulder executing the Deter and Defend mission collectively," said Major General Gianluca Ercolani, Chief of Staff at Allied Air Command. "This work is closely coordinated with the efforts made by Host Nation Romania," he added.
When Italian Task Force Air "Gladiator" Eurofighters arrived at the Romanian base in mid-November, the detachment worked with the outgoing Canadian CF-18 detachment and Romania to further upgrade facilities to accommodate, maintain and operate an increased number of quick reaction alert aircraft.
Infrastructure works at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, Romania, are being conducted by both the Host Nation and deployed Allied detachments. Taxiway and apron upgrades and installation of aircraft shelters were conducted while NATO's 24/7 Air Policing capability out of the base continued. "Allies are cooperating and standing shoulder to shoulder executing the Deter and Defend mission collectively," said Major General Gianluca Ercolani, Chief of Staff at Allied Air Command. Photos courtesy Italian Air Force.
"The 3rd Wing Villafranca Rapid Airfield Operational System and the 3rd Engineer Unit technicians prepared and delivered two smart hangars with one more shelter to follow soon; these measures boost our maintenance capability and offer better protection of our Eurofighters against weather and warfare sensors," said Colonel Michele Morelli, Commander of the Task Force Air. "This helps increasing availability and survivability of our jets for the important NATO mission on the eastern flank," he added.
"In a collective effort, we upgraded and reinforced more than 1,300 square metres of apron and taxiway surface; the demanding projects were managed with Romanian Air Force and local building contractors including working at night," said Colonel Morelli. "During the time, the jets of both Italian and Canadian detachments were deployed at the base. Therefore, the focus was on ensuring a 24/7 quick reaction alert capability for NATO and a smooth handover of the mission – which we clearly achieved," he added.
"In July 2015, the NATO Investment Committee through the NATO Security Investment Programme approved a significant renovation plan for Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base that is led by Host Nation Romania in coordination with the other allies and agencies deployed there", said the air base commander, Romanian Air Force Colonel Nicolae Crețu. "The Romanian Ministry of National Defence runs an Investment Project approved by the Government in 2020, aimed at upgrading Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base to meet NATO Criteria and Standards for Airfields," he added.
The investment will be implemented in four stages over 20 years and include various works such as terrain arrangement works, runway and taxiway construction. The new flight line will provide a flight traffic control post, aircraft operating platforms, lighting and radar systems. The project also includes administrative and social facilities, transit and storage areas, aircraft maintenance areas, military equipment warehouses, perimeter fence and access post control.
“The most recent upgrade projects we worked with the Canadian and Italian detachments were conducted to enable operation of up to ten aircraft and temporary parking of five more aircraft," concluded Colonel Crețu.
Allied fighter detachments have taken turns since 2014 flying out of the air base alongside their Romanian colleagues safeguarding the skies along the Black Sea shores.