Above image: A CF-188 Hornet from the Canadian Air Task Force Lithuania flies beside two Portuguese F16 Flying Falcons over Lithuania on September 15, 2014 for the NATO Baltic Air Policing Block 36 during Operation REASSURANCE. Photo by Cpl Gabrielle DesRochers
On Sept. 3, 2020, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Air Task Force – Romania (ATF-Romania) received their readiness certification from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during a certification ceremony held at the Romanian Air Force Base Mihail Kogalniceanu.
This certification allows the Task Force to officially begin their enhanced Air Policing mission under Operation REASSURANCE in Romania on Saturday, September 5.
Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division and Joint Forces Air Component Commander says, “Every year, this Air Task Force provides a concrete example of Canada’s commitment to NATO’s collective defence. Air Policing is a critical part of NATO’s mandate and is a mission our crews excel at, thanks to their training and experience with our own 24/7/365 NORAD mandate. I know they will take every opportunity to share their knowledge and learn from our Romanian and regional allies, as they help secure the Romanian skies.”
The Mission’s Mandate
During this mission, the detachment from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), consisting of approximately 135 personnel and six CF-18 Hornet fighter jets, will help secure the skies over Romania until December 2020. The Air Task Force will work with the Romanian Air Force under NATO command and control as part of Operation REASSURANCE, which is Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance and deterrence measures.
Holding a Quick Reaction Alert Posture
Canadian fighter pilots, predominantly from 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron (433 TFS), will hold a quick reaction alert posture to augment Romanian air policing capabilities.
The Canadian pilots will also fly training missions together with the Romanian Air Force, as well as other regional Allies and partners. This will include patrolling Romanian air space and, if necessary, intercepting any aircraft that enter it without authorization.
This deployment marks the fifth time Canada has sent a detachment to Romania to support NATO’s enhanced Air Policing.
Operation REASSURANCE is Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance and deterrence measures, which demonstrates Canada’s ability and willingness to react rapidly to international crises and to work side by side with its NATO Allies to reinforce NATO’s collective security.
The CAF has remained agile and able to conduct successful missions worldwide, all while adhering to domestic and host nation COVID-19 safety requirements.
“Having deployed on this mission in 2014, I know how much our pilots and entire Task Force benefit from this opportunity to work with our NATO allies.
COVID-19 has not dulled the enthusiasm of the great team that comes with me and I know their knowledge and professionalism will be evident throughout the deployment,” says Lieutenant-Colonel David McLeod, Commander of Air Task Force – Romania.
During the certification ceremony, protection measures against COVID-19 were taken to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
The Air Task Force members are working alongside Canada’s regional partners and Allies in Romania, and taking all the necessary precautions to minimize risk to the health and safety of members and the local population during their mission.