Chief of the Air Force Staff (SMFA) Viorel Pana believes that the introduction of the F-16 multi-role jet in the combat service adds a significant boost in capability, especially in the context of the current security environment at the Black Sea.
"The completion of this mission is only a stage of the major multi-role jet endowment program of the Romanian Air Force. The Air Police is that combat mission that ensures, in peace time, the action capability against air platforms that use without authorization the national airspace," Viorel Pana said on Thursday on the occasion of the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft's inauguration ceremony, under national command, in the permanent Air Police combat service.
He explained that the next stage within the major program is carrying out this mission under NATO command, and this requires the continuation of the operational process and the certification of the squadron.
"The Romanian Air Force will continue this important program for the defense of Romania by completing the first squadron up to the NATO standards, the establishment and endowment of Squadrons 2 and 3, along with the training of flying and technical-engineering personnel, as well as the development of the air base's operational infrastructure," said Viorel Pana.
Pilot Catalin Miclos, the commander of the 53 Squadron, said that all 12 F-16s can perform combat missions. He expressed the hope that other planes of this type will be purchased.
General Catalin Bahneanu, Commander of 86 Air Base, said that the F-16 is a new, multi-role capability, much better than the warplanes Romania had and said NATO certification could come in a few months.