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Alabama Air National Guard Refuels Romanian Air Force

  • Published
  • By Pfc. Alleyson Singley,
  • 131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA – Airmen from the Alabama National Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing and 187th Fighter Wing conducted capability exercises in the Black Sea region with the Romanian Air Force as part of the State Partnership Program May 13- 21.

The State Partnership Program links a state’s National Guard with the partner country’s military forces to foster relationships and interoperability. Romania and Alabama have been partners for 29 years.

“This is the first time we are able to bring KC-135 aircrafts to Romania through the State Partnership Program,” said Lt. Col. Brian Baltz, Alabama Air National Guard bilateral affairs officer. “We are building those relationships between our aviators and maintainers that we will be able to continue to shape with our Romanian counterparts for years to come.”

KC-135 crews from the 117th Air Refueling Wing and F-16 pilots from Romania’s 53rd Warhawk Squadron conducted midair refueling during the day and night.

“I was able to coach the Romanian pilots,” said Tech Sgt. Michael Robinson, a boom operator with the 117th Air Refueling Wing, “using my lights and verbal commands to bring the pilots to a point they were comfortable to make contact and receive fuel.”

The 187th Fighter Wing worked alongside the Romanian Air Force’s F-16 mechanics to provide knowledge and assistance with maintenance for the fighter jets.

“The Romanian Air Force has very experienced mechanics,” said Master Sgt. William Rhodes, the 187th Fighter Wing Maintenance Squadron senior enlisted leader. “Though we have had F-16 aircrafts for longer, we can all continue to learn something from each other.”

The mission provided the Alabama National Guard and Romanian Air Force with vital bilateral training working with foreign militaries through the State Partnership Program.

“We have a nearly 30-year relationship with Romania, but new opportunities like this help it continue to grow,” said Baltz. “Anything is achievable with the right partner.”