Enhanced air policing F-16 swap over

As Russian aggression in Ukraine shows no sign of abating, there has been a swap over of US Air Force F-16CMs at Fetesti Air Base in Romania to continue operating in support of NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing (EAP) mission in the Black Sea region. On April 29, six F-16s from the 31st Fighter Wing’s 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) ‘Buzzards’ at Aviano Air Base, Italy, arrived at Fetesti to take on the role. They have replaced the F-16s of the 52nd Fighter Wing’s 480th EFS ‘Warhawks’ from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

USAF F-16 at Fetesti
US Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcon 88-0462 ‘AV’ from the 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) ‘Buzzards’ takes off from Fetesti Air Base, Romania, on April 30 for the unit’s first NATO Enhanced Air Policing (EAP) mission after arriving at the base the previous day USAF/Master Sgt Nathan Lipscomb

The 480th EFS had completed a three-month deployment rotation on the EAP mission, having arrived at Fetesti in February to enhance NATO’s collective defence posture and support the enduring Air Policing mission, aided by Allies from Romania, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The unit’s aircraft returned home to Spangdahlem on April 30. Gen Jeff Harrigian, US Air Force in Europe – Air Forces Africa commander, said: “The continued presence of US F-16s in the south-east region ensures critical capability for the Air Policing mission and strengthens NATO’s collective readiness. Our ability to operate shoulder-to-shoulder with our regional Allies bolsters our collective defence and interoperability across the Eastern flank.” Airmen of the 510th EFS will continue the mission of the 480th EFS and work closely with Italian Typhoons that have been safeguarding the skies since December 2021.