Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are why the Royal Canadian Air Force answered an urgent appeal from NATO to deploy fighter jets deeper into Europe than ever before.
Half a dozen CF-18 Hornets from Bagotville, Que., have been flying near Ukraine’s southern border and elsewhere in Romania for three weeks, sometimes flying alongside Soviet-era Romanian MiG-21s over Transylvania.
„Our civilians do not really understand why the Canadians are here, but they support their presence as something that is good because we are part of NATO,” said Cmdr. Marian Petrus, who runs the Campia Turzii fighter base. „But our high-level people make the direct connection with the political situation in Ukraine. We are a member of NATO so we do not worry for ourselves but for Moldova.”
Moldova is a small, Romanianspeaking former Soviet republic on Romania’s northeastern border where Russia keeps troops.
„The Canadians are here at the direction of NATO to help with security so that a peaceful solution can be found.”
This is the first time that the RCAF has deployed 2 Air Expeditionary Wing, which was purposebuilt to get the air force up and flying in distant locales quickly. „We learned our lessons from Haiti, Aviano and Libya,” said Lt.-Col. Luc Girouard, who is running the wing’s operations here. „We need to deploy quickly and we need people with experience to do it. That is our raison d’être. It is a concept that has been developed over the years.”