Sep. 19—U.S. military officials on Tuesday marked completion of a $34 million upgrade to a strategic base in central Romania where more than $100 million is being spent on initiatives aimed at extending the U.S. Air Force's reach in southeastern Europe.
The work at Air Base 71, also known as Campia Turzii, includes a new squadron operations facility, aircraft hangar and parking apron, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers statement Tuesday.
The operations facility will be used as a "nerve center" for planning and directing missions operating from the base, the Corps said.
Meanwhile, a new 14,000-square-foot aircraft hangar was designed to accommodate more NATO warplanes.
"These projects help ensure the base can support operations of U.S. and NATO aircraft and crews," the statement said.
Romania has been a focal point for the Pentagon as it seeks to step up operations in the Black Sea region.
The initiatives at Campia Turzii are part of a larger construction program at the base that entails nine other projects and exceeds $100 million in all.
A further $220 million in construction is taking place at other installations across Romania, including a training ground in Cincu and Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, which serves as the U.S. military's main hub in Romania.
The Romanian projects "contribute to the readiness and responsiveness of U.S. forces in Europe" and "reinforce the collective defense and security of NATO allies," Roger Vogler, chief of engineering and construction for the Corps' Europe district, said Tuesday.
The efforts are funded through U.S. European Command's European deterrence initiative, which is focused on boosting military capabilities to fortify NATO territory against potential Russian aggression.
In recent years, Air Force fighter planes have made rotations to Campia Turzii, but improvements were needed for the U.S and allies to expand operations.
Without the improvements, the Air Force would be limited in what it could send to the base, the service said in 2020, when it was seeking funding for the projects.
In addition to fighter jets, the Air Force also routinely flies MQ-9 Reaper drones out of Campia Turzii, giving allies an added surveillance capability not far from Romania's border with Ukraine.
Romanian air force Brig. Gen. Miclos Catalin-Eugen, the commander at Turzii, said the improvements are a sign of growth at the base, where "everything is becoming better and better."
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