Romania, the Netherlands and US company Lockheed Martin have agreed to open…

sursa foto: MApN

Romania, the Netherlands and US company Lockheed Martin have agreed to open a pilot centre for F-16 aircraft in Romania / The centre will operate at an air base in Călărași county

The Netherlands, Romania and US partner Lockheed Martin have signed a letter of intent to open a European F-16 pilot centre in Romania, which could be flown by Ukrainian pilots trained there.

In a statement on Thursday, Lockheed Martin said that the centre, located at the 86th Air Force Base Lt Aviator Gheorghe Mociorniță in Borcea, Calarasi county, will first focus on training Romanian pilots of F-16 aircraft, with other countries to be involved later, Breaking Defense reports, cited by Rador.

Romania currently has a fleet of 17 F-16s, but is to receive 32 more aircraft, which later belonged to the Royal Norwegian Air Force, with their agreement expiring in 2022.

„Currently, crews in the Netherlands and Romania train on Lockheed Martin F-16 simulators, and this pilot centre will support training through a series of effective ground and flight missions,” Lockheed Martin added of the F-16 pilot centre agreement.

The letter of intent comes after the Biden administration approved the re-export of fourth-generation jets to Ukraine, after which the Netherlands and Denmark pledged to send Kiev 61 jets, though officials did not say when the planes might be used in combat operations against Russia.

Earlier, at a summit in Vilnius in July 2023, NATO member states first agreed that Romania would host a regional centre for F-16 aircraft.

The Netherlands is the frontrunner in Europe’s F-16 aircraft capabilities for Ukraine, and on Tuesday, in a later translated statement, the country said, „The intention is to train Ukrainian pilots and technical staff, as well as their pilots and brigades from NATO countries.” The statement did not say when the training of Ukrainian pilots would begin in Romania, but added that the first flying sessions had already started in the UK and Denmark.

In a statement, the Romanian Defence Ministry stressed that „some” Dutch F-16 aircraft will be sent to 86th Air Base ‘”in order to implement this project”.

Last week, the US Department of Defense revealed that Ukrainian pilots would be training in the US in a few weeks, although Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder did not give an exact number when speaking to the press.

According to figures released by Lockheed Martin, more than 3,100 F-16s currently operate in 25 countries.

Source: Breaking Defense/ Rador/ Alexandru Danga

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