RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
The 457th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 301st Fighter Wing, Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, continues to operate as a rotational presence out of the 71st Air Base, Campia Turzii, Romania, for a Theater Security Package after changing over their operations section last month.
TSP deployments to Europe vary in length and are supported with Total Force aircraft and Airmen from stateside units. Since 2015, the U.S. Air Force schedules and deploys force packages of fighters and tankers throughout the U.S. European Command area of responsibility participate in multiple readiness exercises alongside NATO allies and partners to strengthen interoperability and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of Europe.
The new team arrived in mid-June to continue the joint training the unit has been providing since arriving in May. The maintenance section of the 457th EFS provides continuity by remaining in Romania for the duration of the mission.
Lt Col Paul Batish, 457th EFS commander said the new leadership team would continue normal day-to-day operations with minor differences between the first rotation’s support.
“Our mission is the same: we’re here to show the United States’ commitment to Romania, to NATO and to have a presence in Eastern Europe,” he said. “We’re also doing more distinguished visitor and events and may get a little more MiG 21 flying than the first group did.”
Some of the flying with Romanian MiG 21 Lancers includes offensive and defensive air maneuvers as they practice long range and short-range air-to-air tactics.
During the training, pilots work closely with Romanian ground control intercept officers who help identify targets in the air and help conduct intercept training with other aircraft.
“They [Romanian GCIs] have really learned how to execute NATO standard tactics and we’ve been impressed with the way in which they’ve been able to provide radar control to us which is just as good as what we see with our controllers back in the United States,” Batish said.
In addition to the air-to-air training, the 457th EFS also performed air-to-ground training by simulating close air support with ground forces and providing CAS to Romanian joint terminal attack controllers at a range in Romania.
Lt. Col. David Snodgrass, 457th EFS director of operations said the integration went “really smooth” as Romanian JTACs deconflicted and identified the targets for the 457th EFS to strike with live ammunition.
“It was good training for us,” said Batish. “We were impressed with the Romanian JTACS, got a lot of good training and had good debriefs to improve for the next time around.”
The TSP will continue integrating with the Romanians over the next few weeks with more air-to-air training with Romanian MiG 21 Lancers and Italian Euro Fighters.
That training will consist of low altitude training, tactical intercept training with GCIs and long range intercepts to continue improving interoperability, said Snodgrass.
TSP deployments in the European theater operate on a rotational basis to provide the combatant commander and other regional commanders’ unique air capabilities necessary to support regional security and participate in distinctive training opportunities with European allies and partners.
“It’s an honor being here,” training with our NATO partners and building relationships with countries like Romania, said Batish. “But we’re also here to show we can deploy here and quickly forward deploy from this location to deter regional adversaries.”