Earlier this year, the Air Force decided to relocate a squadron of MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft in Romania. And now they have begun conducting missions.
The Air Force moved the 25th Attack Group to the eastern European country as part of a renewed focus in the region. The Pentagon is increasingly focusing on Great Power Competition against China and Russia, and Romania is located close to Ukraine, Crimea, Turkey, Russia, and the Black Sea.
In particular, Ukraine and the Russian-occupied Crimea are next door to Romania. The relocation of the MQ-9 Reaper squadron, thus, will come in handy not only for US forces in the region but also for the NATO allies and Ukrainian partners. But the Middle East is still high on the list.
“This is an exciting moment where we can showcase the value of the MQ-9 across the globe, not just in the Middle East,” Colonel Timothy Monroe, the commander of the 25th Attack Group, in a press release. “We can demonstrate to our NATO allies and coalition partners that, when our Airmen are given the most difficult tasks, we rise to the occasion and bring the best of who we are to every mission that we accomplish.”
The MQ-9 Reaper is the US military’s staple attack and surveillance remotely piloted aircraft. It has been in use for almost three decades now. Its popularity transcends military circles and spills into the intelligence community, which has been using Reapers for targeted killings of terrorists around the world.
“Standing up active-duty Reaper combat lines in the European theater is a significant milestone for the RPA community,” Colonel Stephen Jones, the commander of the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, added. “We intend to move to evolve our weapon system to survive and provide critical capabilities in contested environments. The support from our partners in Europe has been outstanding, and we are proud of achieving operational capability ahead of schedule.”
This is not the first time that the Air Force deploys MQ-9 Reapers in Eastern Europe. In the last few years, there have been temporary relocations of drones in Poland and Estonia.
The MQ-9 Reapers are based in the 71st Air Base in Campia Turzii Air Base.