Seymour Johnson F-15s head to Romania and Bulgaria

USAF Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, arrived at Borcea Air Base, Romania, and Graf Ignatievo AB in Bulgaria on October 18, all in support of operation Castle Forge.

Operation Castle Forge is a US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa-led joint, multinational training exercise. The Seymour Johnson Strike Eagles trained alongside Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29s and Forţele Aeriene Române/Romanian Air Force F-16AM/BM Block 15 Fighting Falcons. 

Roma ian F-16 and SJ F-15
Romanian Air Force F-16s and Seymour Johnson F-15E Strike Eagles line up on Borcea Air Base's runway. Capt Mirela VÎŢĂ

It is the first time in the history of the 86th Air Base at Borcea that USAF F-15s have deployed there and is also the first multinational exercise hosted by the base since the arrival of the F-16.

The final Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon acquired by the Romanian Air Force was delivered on March 25 this year from its previous operating nation, Portugal. 

Romanian F-16
A Romanian Air Force F-16 heads across the threshold for a mixed flight with USAF F-15E Strike Eagles. Capt Mirela VÎŢĂ

This completed an order that commenced in 2016 when Romania acquired 12 F‐16AM/BM Block 15 fighters, nine single-seat and three twin-seat, with a further five F-16s, four single-seat and one twin-seat ordered to make the fleet total of 17.  

Commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA and NATO Allied Air Command, Gen Jeff Harrigan said: “We’re excited to take Castle Forge to the next level with these forward movements. The opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our Bulgarian and Romanian allies will demonstrate our unshakeable partnerships and ability to provide unparalleled airpower in this key region.” 

Roma ian F-16 and SJ F-15
A Single USAF F-15E and two Romanian Air Force F-16s return to Borcea Air Base. Capt Mirela VÎŢĂ