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Chief of the Romanian Air Force Staff visits the Red Tails

  • Published
  • 187th Fighter Wing

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. -- The 187th Fighter Wing hosted a tour for the Chief of the Romanian Air Force Staff and delegation at Dannelly Field, Alabama, June 29, 2023.

Lt. Gen. Viorel Pană, Chief of the Romanian Air Force Staff received an update on how the two countries’ air forces train together on the F-16, along the Red Tails’ transition to the F-35 Lightning II.

The Alabama National Guard has an ongoing relationship with Romania through the State Partnership Program that was initiated in 1993. Since then, the partnership has fielded numerous training exercises in both Alabama and Romania. The visitation provided Romania with insight on the F-35 conversion process as they further continued their defense modernization program.

“It will be our 30 year anniversary with the State Partnership Program with Romania.” said Chief Master Sgt. William Rhodes, quality assurance senior enlisted leader. “It is always a blessing to see people you have grown with over your career. It truly is like a family reunion when we get together.”

In 2017, the 187th Fighter Wing was announced to be one of the first three Air National Guard units selected to receive the F-35s. Dannelly Field is undergoing significant construction changes to its base infrastructure as the Red Tails are slated to receive the fifth-generation fighter aircraft in December 2023.

“Showing our conversion process will provide our state partners with firsthand experience on what is needed to support one of the most advanced aircraft in the Air Force,” said Col Brian Vaughn, 187th Fighter Wing commander. “Working with Romania and sharing lessons learned with some of the best is always an amazing experience. We look forward to any opportunity that will allow us to strengthen our bond through joint operations as we have done for three decades. Our ability to continue to operate globally will depend on our relationships, and these partners have long-standing connections that we value greatly.”

In addition to F-35 activity, a senior noncommissioned officers round table was held to discuss topics such as operational responsibilities and establishing relationships. The opportunity offered collective knowledge for Romania and wing members on the modern enlisted force structure and adjusting the techniques, tactics and procedures to train enlisted leaders to operate within an optimized global landscape using agile combat employment.

“We must adapt and educate our Airmen on how to operate in a new era,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mataya Williams, 187th Fighter Wing command chief. “The threats our air forces face are real and are continually evolving. It is imperative that we communicate with all levels of leadership so that there is a fluidity in how we assemble and engage in this generation’s competition.”