Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has deployed four Boeing CF-18 Hornet fighter jets in Romania for a four-month under NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission.
The Canadian aircraft and about 135 supporting Canadian Armed Forces personnel will be based at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near Romania’s second largest city of Constanta on the Black Sea coast, Radio Canada International reported Monday.
The deployment move is part of Canada’s Operation REASSURANCE. Canada’s contribution to NATO’s mission designed to contain Russia’s raising assertive policy in Eastern Europe and reassure the alliance’s newest members in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Lt.-Col. Mark Hickey, commander of the Canadian detachment deployed in Romania, said the RCAF has “ample experience deploying under NATO Air Policing missions.” The RCAF has also deployed CF-18 Hornets jets to the Baltic States and Iceland in support of NATO missions, Hickey said.
The RCAF first deployed Canadian aircraft and crew to Romania as part of Op REASSURANCE following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Constanta is only about 390 kilometres west of the Russian airbase in Novofyodorovka, located not far from Sevastopol, Crimea, and it would take a CF-18 less than half an hour to reach Crimea.
The project is scheduled to become operational in late 2018, when work on a radar installation in Poland – the other main land-based component in the shield – is completed, Reuters reported.
WThe shield is designed as a defence against Iranian missile strikes, US officials say. Whereas Russian President Vladimir Putin considers the system as well as NATO threats to Russia’s security, and has assured of retaliation.
For the next few days, the Canadian fighter jets are scheduled to conduct familiarization flights before starting their mission, the military said.