The United States Air Force has established a permanent contingent of MQ-9 Reaper drones at Campia Turzii Air Base in Romania.
According to a U.S. Air Force press release, the drones will conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of NATO operations. Whilst the number of the aircraft is still unknown, the Air Force stated that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles will be dispatched along with 70 US airmen.
While in theatre, the Reapers will also take part in Agile Combat Employment, an Air Force concept that relies on multiple bases to perform combat missions. In addition, the Air Force stated that the drones will be able to take part in joint international exercises.
The USAF assets will be under the wing of the 31st Expeditionary Operations Group, Detachment 1 until the squadron is fully operational. After reaching operational capabilities, the unit will be under the 31st fighter wing, based at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
The forward and ready positioning of our MQ-9s at this key strategic location reassures our allies and partners, while also sending a message to our adversaries, that we can quickly respond to any emergent threat,”
– Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander
This is not the first enduring presence of American drones in Europe, where the Air Force already operates a force of MQ-9 Reaper drones based at Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, since 2019.