USAF deploys MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and airmen to Romania

5 January 2021 (Last Updated January 5th, 2021 14:40)

The US Air Force (USAF) has forward deployed its MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and positioned about 90 airmen to Romania.

USAF deploys MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and airmen to Romania
An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. Credit: Lt Col Leslie Pratt.

The US Air Force (USAF) has forward deployed its MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and positioned about 90 airmen to Romania.

Based at the 71st Air Base in Romania’s Campia Turzii Air Base, the assets will support Nato operations by carrying out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

According to the USAF, the MQ-9s will be controlled by the 31st Expeditionary Operations Group, Detachment 1, until the military aircraft is fully operational.

The MQ-9 Reaper has an operational ceiling of 50,000ft, a maximum internal payload of 800lb and external payload exceeding 3,000lb.

The USAF first deployed the MQ-9 Reaper to Afghanistan in October 2007 for precision airstrikes.

US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander general Jeff Harrigian said: “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.”

The MQ-9s will support capabilities such as ‘Agile Combat Employment’ concepts and fly freedom of manoeuvre missions.

The USAF noted that the deployment was carried out in complete coordination with the Government of Romania.

It ‘demonstrates the United States’ commitment to the security and stability of Europe’ while enhancing ties with Nato allies and other partners in the continent.

Last month, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) completed the full-scale static (FSS) testing on the MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) wing, following three months of testing.