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Romanian Visit Enhances Partnership with ANG Maintainers

  • Published
  • By SSgt Jared Rand
  • 187 Fighter Wing
15 members of the Romanian air force are currently visiting the 187th Fighter Wing here to exchange information about the management and maintenance of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

The monthlong visit is part of the State Partnership Program between Alabama and Romania. The Romanian air force has purchased several F-16s from Portugal, and they are receiving maintenance training from the Portuguese. But managing a squadron of aircraft requires more than just technical know-how.

"We get trained on how to fix jets and how to follow the procedures," said Romanian air force Maj. Constantin Pecete, one of the lead maintainers with the group. "But the things that are not covered in that training are how to organize, what meetings you need to have, what plans you need to have, emergency procedures and things like that.

"Every new weapon system comes with a new philosophy. It's a big help to us to see how things are done here, and they are done well," Pecete said.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. William Rhodes, avionics element superintendent with the 187th Maintenance Squadron, is the wing's liaison for the visit. He said that the level of experience in the maintenance group is what makes the partnership effective.

"We are a world-class maintenance organization," Rhodes said. "We've been doing this for a long time. The National Guard has a lot of experienced maintainers that have been working on these exact same jets for more than 20 years. I think Romania recognizes that they can come to us, and the same people will be here five years from now. There will be some turnover, but it won't be like an active duty unit where you would have all new people."

Rhodes and Pecete both agreed that these in person visits are invaluable for strengthening partnerships between the two nations.

"It's just like building any relationship," Rhodes said. "The more time you spend with someone, the more you become friends and the more you can help each other out."