Two separate air force crashes kill eight army personnel in bad weather near the Black Sea.
Eight servicemen died after their helicopter and fighter jet crashed separately in bad weather in eastern Romania near the Black Sea, marking the worst day of air force accidents in recent times. years.
The European Union member is on the front line bolstering NATO’s eastern flank as Russia wages its all-out war against neighboring Ukraine, and has seen international reinforcements arrive in recent weeks.
The IAR 330 Puma helicopter crashed on Wednesday in the Gura Dobrogei area, 11 km (seven miles) from the airfield, killing all seven people on board, the defense ministry said.
He was looking for the MiG-21 LanceR, shortly after the fighter jet – part of a formation of two MiG-21 LanceR aircraft carrying out air patrol missions – lost contact and disappeared from radar.
Later Wednesday, the fighter jet was also found after crashing near Cogealac, an uninhabited area near the Black Sea, the Defense Ministry said. The 31-year-old pilot died, he added.
“It is premature to discuss possible causes. Admittedly, there were unfavorable weather conditions, but we cannot comment now,” General Constantin Spanu’s spokesman told local television on Wednesday.
The helicopter pilot had reported adverse weather conditions and had been ordered to return to base, according to the ministry.
All IAR 330 Puma and MiG LanceR aircraft will be grounded while the cause of the crash is investigated.
On Thursday, military and religious ceremonies to commemorate the victims will take place in all Romanian military units.
President Klaus Iohannis, in a statement late Wednesday, sent his “thoughts to the bereaved families” of the crash victims on what he called a “tragic night for Romanian aviation.”
In July 2010, 12 people were killed and two injured when an AN-2 aircraft crashed during a parachute training flight mission shortly after takeoff.
This led the Romanian military to abandon the aircraft type, which was no longer considered safe.
Later that month, six Israeli soldiers and a Romanian died when their helicopter crashed in central Romania.
MiG-21 LanceR crashes occur occasionally.
In 2018, a Romanian Air Force pilot died after his MiG-21 LanceR crashed during an air show in the southeast of the country.
The Romanian Air Force still relies on Soviet-era MiGs for air policing missions, although it is upgrading its aircraft.
NATO eastern flank
Romania, a former member of the communist bloc now part of NATO and the European Union, has seen tens of thousands of refugees arrive since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine last week.
In recent months of growing regional tensions, Romania has repeatedly requested that reinforcements be sent to NATO’s eastern flank. His allies reacted.
The United States has sent a squadron of Stryker armored vehicles and about 1,000 troops in recent weeks to a Romanian base near the Black Sea, adding to the 900 people already stationed in the country.
And in the past month, six German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets have joined four similar planes sent by Italy before the crisis.
More than 500 French soldiers are sent to this Eastern European country this week.