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de Razvan Diaconu , 13.7.2020
A former Soviet airbase in central Romania could become a hub for US Air Force operations in south-eastern Europe, where the Pentagon is seeking to bring alternately additional fighter jets, as part of a mission to discourage Russian aggression, writes the American publication Stars and Stripes.
The national defence law for 2021, which is currently discussed in the Congress, includes budget allocation of USD 130.5 million for refurbishing Campia Turzii Air Base, which would be the largest overseas military construction project within The European Deterrence Initiative carried out by the Pentagon since June 2014, shortly after Russia annexed Crimea.
The United States Air Force has called for major improvements at this base in Romania, including the modernization of runways and the expansion of the parking area, in order to ensure additional rotations of tactical squadrons of fighters, the supplementation of fuel storage capacity and the construction of a hangar that can accommodate a deployable airbase system.
“Campia Turzii Air Base is one of the main sources for the European Command of the United States and for the ability to respond to an evolving security environment,” is the justification for the 2021 budget request for Campia Turzii.
EUCOM – the European Command of the United States – has increased its missions in Romania over the years, but most of its efforts have focused on Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, which is used primarily by the US Army in Europe and rotating ground forces.
The Pentagon also gradually increased spending with the Campia Turzii. Last year, USAFE sent MQ-9 Reaper drones from Poland to Campia Turzii, bringing them closer to the Black Sea, where Russian military activity has grown steadily since the war in 2008 with Georgia.
The Air Force has sent fighter jets to Campia Turzii but improvements are needed for the US and allies to expand operations. “An adequate parking capacity for aircraft that can support NATO larger weapon systems is not currently available at Campia Turzii Air Base. In the absence of targeted improvements, the Air Force would be limited in the options of devices that can be sent to Campia Turzii which would affect the response capacity in various missions,” motivates the Air Force its budget request.
Other projects proposed for funding in 2021 are aimed at improving the infrastructure of Rota Naval Base in Spain (USD 59 million) and investments in Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany (USD 36 million and USD 25 million, respectively).