- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The U.S. Air Force has set up a base in Romania to locate a squadron of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct intelligence and reconnaissance missions in support of NATO operations.

The Reapers and about 90 Air Force personnel will be located at Campia Turzii, a Romanian air base located about 400 miles northwest of Bucharest, the country’s capital. Until the squadron is fully operational, the Reapers will fall under the command of the Air Force’s 31st Expeditionary Operations Group, officials said.

“The forward and ready positioning of our MQ-9s at this key strategic location reassures our allies and partners, while also sending a message to our adversaries that we can quickly respond to any emergent threat,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa.

In January 2000, the Air Force deployed a detachment of Reapers to Romania from Poland, where they had been operating since May 2018.

“It is designed to promote stability and security within the region and to strengthen relationships with NATO allies and other countries,” Air Force officials said in a statement.

With the Reaper unit being located there, Campia Turzii could become a hub for U.S. Air Force operations in southeastern Europe. The National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 included more than $130 million to renovate the base, a former Soviet-era military installation.

“The United States and Romania enjoy a close military-to-military relationship as NATO allies and cooperate on numerous regional security officials,” Air Force officials said.

In addition to their intelligence and reconnaissance missions in the region, the Reaper units also will fly “freedom of maneuver” operations and work with joint forces in the region, Air Force officials said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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