The Russian invasion of Ukraine is steadily approaching it’s third month. And airmen from Aviano Air Base in Italy are preparing to take over for Air Force fighter jets from Spangdahlem Air Base currently serving as the U.S. contingent in NATO air policing efforts in Romania.

Six F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived at Fetesti Air Base on April 29 to replace members of the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron who initially answered NATO’s call for air policing in February.

“The continued presence of U.S. F-16s in the south-east region ensures critical capability for the Air Policing mission and strengthens NATO’s collective readiness.” Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Force in Europe – Air Forces Africa commander, said in a recent press release.

“Our ability to operate shoulder-to-shoulder with our regional Allies bolsters our collective defense and interoperability across the Eastern flank.”

The U.S. military has deployed a myriad of aircraft since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 — including dozens of AH-64 Apache helicopters and F-35A Lightning II and F-15 Eagle fighter jets — to NATO-supported bases in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.

Airmen with the 480th EFS first arrived at Fetesti Air Base as part of a three-month rotational deployment to support NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing mission in the Black Sea region, working alongside allies from Romania, Italy and the United Kingdom.

U.S. troops from the 510th EFS will also be working alongside Italian Typhoons that have been flying in the region in since December.

Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Master's candidate at New York University for Business and Economic Reporting.

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