Two U.S. F-16s carrying live ammunition in mission over Romania

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Two U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcon aircraft based at Aviano Air Base, Italy have taken part in a mission over Romania and Eastern Europe  carrying live weapons.

The Viper belonging to the 555th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Wings carried AIM-120C/D and AIM-9X missiles, the Aviationist reported.

Online flight

Saturday’s drill was not announced in advance, causing some curiosity among online flight trackers who observed multiple military aircraft (unusually flying a training sortie on a Sunday morning in Europe) on their way to the Black Sea.

The main difference is the scenario: eastern Europe is now facing the threat of a war. Russia has amassed 150,000 troops near Ukraine, with tensions at their highest in years.

The mission mission was the second time the Aviano’s Vipers flew with live armament since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis. The first time, at least in daylight, was reported to be on Friday.


The F-16s operated inside Romania’s airspace along with other NATO and U.S. assets for several hours before returning to base, reported.

Flying over Romania, the F-16s of the 555th FS “Triple Nickel” were supported by U.S. tankers (KC-135/KC-10) from RAF Mildenhall, whose racetracks could be tracked online by means of their Mode-S/ADS-B transponders.

It’s not the first time the F-16s from Aviano have operated in the Black Sea region armed with live air-to-air weapons.

Air assets

For instance, in 2020, the Vipers of the 31st FW took part in a joint exercise focusing on realistic integration, operation and communication between surface and air assets to protect the maritime domain.

The F-16s, along with other U.S. and NATO fighters  deployed to the eastern flank, were probably tasked with a deterrence mission, flying CAP (Combat Air Patrol) to ensure air superiority and DCA (Defensive Counter Air).

If needed they could provide HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) to ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft keeping an eye on the Russian movements around Ukraine.

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