Lockheed Martin to Establish European F-16 Training Center in Romania

Lockheed Martin is partnering with the governments of Romania and the Netherlands to establish a European F-16 training center in Bucharest.

The facility would help ensure the safety and effectiveness of Romanian military personnel flying and operating the multi-role fighter aircraft.

It could also expand to training aviators from other European nations, including Ukraine.

According to the company, hundreds of F-16s operate across Europe to protect airspace and assist in integrated NATO peacekeeping missions.

Establishing a regional training center would reportedly enhance the mission readiness of various European partners through “a comprehensive F-16 training solution.”

“The F-16 continues to play a crucial role in 21st Century Security missions for the United States, Europe, NATO, and allies around the world,” Lockheed vice president OJ Sanchez said. “Lockheed Martin is proud to partner with the Netherlands and Romania on this European F-16 Training Center.”

The facility will be built at Romania’s 86th “Lieutenant Aviator Gheorghe Mociorniță” Air Base near the border with Bulgaria.

Focus on Ukraine?

The move to establish a European F-16 training center in Bucharest comes after the US greenlighted Denmark and Amsterdam sending the fourth-generation aircraft to Ukraine.

A total of 61 F-16s will reportedly be transferred, and some European nations have begun training Ukrainian pilots to operate and maintain the aircraft.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence, which leads European F-16 capability efforts for the war-torn nation, earlier said the real intention of the new facility is to “train Ukrainian pilots and technical personnel.”

The training of Ukrainian aviators will commence as soon as hired instructors finish a refresher course, the ministry said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has long requested modern warplanes and weapons to support its defense against Russian forces.

But US President Joe Biden initially ruled out sending the combat aircraft to Kyiv, saying he did not believe the country needed F-16s during the earlier phases of the war.

European F-16 training center
Representatives from Lockheed Martin, Romania, and the Netherlands during the signing of the letter of intent for a European F-16 training center. Photo: Lockheed Martin

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