The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has successfully deployed the first squadron of F-16 fighter jets to Romania’s Fetești air base.
The deployment also signals the initial phase in the operational setup of the European F-16 Training Centre (EFTC) at the 86th Air Base, near Fetești, Romania, a facility aimed at bolstering the air force competencies of Ukrainian and Romanian pilots.
The arrival of the five F-16 aircraft, consisting of single seater F-16AM and two-seater F-16BM aircraft, was confirmed by the Dutch Ministry of Defense on November 7, 2023.
This initiative, supported by the United States and led by the Netherlands in partnership with Denmark, is a proactive measure to enhance the operational readiness of NATO air forces. The EFTC is poised to become a pivotal institution for NATO, focusing on the standardization of tactics and procedures among its member states.
In a press release the Romanian Ministry of National Defense said it will provide the 86th Air Base, complete with essential training infrastructure, to support the operations of the European F-16 Training Centre, while the RNLAF will supply the F-16 aircraft, and Lockheed Martin is tasked with providing instructors and maintenance services.
Currently operating 17 F-16 aircraft of its own, Romania is also scheduled to receive another 32 from Norway in the near future. The EFTC is expected to streamline the training process for Romanian pilots, facilitating a smoother integration of the additional aircraft into the Romanian Air Force’s operational fleet.
An official ceremony to mark the opening of the EFTC will be announced at a later date and will symbolize the collaborative defense efforts of NATO allies.