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Romanian village poised to become NATO's largest airbase in Europe

by Olena Goncharova June 23, 2024 6:44 AM 2 min read
An F-16 fighter jet lands at the 86th Romanian Military Airbase in Fetesti, Romania, on Nov. 13, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Andrei Pungovschi/AFP via Getty Images)
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Romania's Mihai Kogalniceanu (MK) airbase, named after a nearby village honoring a 19th-century liberal politician, is set to become NATO's largest base in Europe, surpassing Ramstein in Germany.

This move comes as a response to Russian leader Vladimir Putin's justification for the war in Ukraine, citing NATO's encroachment on Russia’s European flank. NATO's increased presence in Romania is a direct response to the full-scale war, now in its third year.

The MK base will soon host a squadron of Romanian F-16s, recently acquired from Norway, as well as MQ-9 Reaper drones. Additionally, a military city is being developed to accommodate rotating NATO army, air force, and naval personnel from 32 countries, according to BBC.

BBC interviewed RAF pilot Flight Lieutenant Charlie Tagg who is on his third and final tour of duty at the MK base. "There's a much bigger US presence here, a lot more infrastructure, accommodation, people, and equipment," he noted.

According to Tagg, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has altered both the areas he flies over and the strategic posture of the mission. During his last tour in 2021, NATO fighter pilots flew far out over international waters in the Black Sea. However, now they stick to the 12-nautical-mile zone above Romanian and Bulgarian territorial waters "to avoid misunderstandings, escalatory situations with the Russians."

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