Romanian Helicopter Crash: Plane Crashes Claimed the Lives of Military Personnel

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Officials announced on Thursday that a fighter aircraft pilot and seven soldiers on a helicopter search mission in eastern Romania were killed in two separate incidents.

The Romanian military was grieving the fatalities and probing the incidents, which were not, according to officials, the result of an attack.

So, what went wrong?

A MiG-21 Lancer fighter jet was patrolling the area between Cogealac and Gura Dobrogei in eastern Romania on Wednesday.

The pilot of the IAR 330-Puma helicopter assigned to find him reported “unfavorable weather” and was summoned back to base before it, too, crashed, according to the Defense Ministry. The entire crew of seven soldiers was killed.

A MiG-21 Lancer fighter jet was patrolling the area between Cogealac and Gura Dobrogei in eastern Romania on Wednesday.

romanian helicopter crash (1)
Romanian Helicopter Crash: Plane Crashes Claimed the Lives of Military Personnel

According to the Defense Ministry, the pilot of the IAR 330-Puma chopper dispatched to find him reported “unfavorable weather” and was forced to return to base before it crashed as well. The entire crew of seven soldiers was killed.

After the plane crash site near the Black Sea was identified, the 31-year-old fighter jet pilot was discovered dead later that day.

The crashes were dubbed “a horrible night for Romanian aviation” by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who extended his sympathies to the victims’ families.

According to the Defense Ministry, military planes of the same model will be stopped while the crash’s cause is probed.

“Speculation on possible causes is premature.” “Undoubtedly, there were adverse weather circumstances, but we cannot comment at this time,” General Constantin Spanu, a ministry spokesman, told local television.

There was also “no proof” that the crashes were caused by a hostile attack, according to Defense Minister Vasile Dinu.

Romania’s armed forces prepared memorials for the crash victims on Thursday.

romanian helicopter crash (2)
Romanian Helicopter Crash: Plane Crashes Claimed the Lives of Military Personnel

Have there been any previous issues?

The disasters were Romania’s deadliest air force event since a military helicopter crash in central Romania killed eight people in 2014.

The MiG-21 Lancer fighter jet has been involved in catastrophic incidents in recent years.

In 2018, a Romanian Air Force pilot died in a jet crash in the country’s southeast during an air display.

Despite efforts to modernize its aircraft, the Romanian Air Force continues to rely on antiquated Soviet-era MiG planes for air patrol operations.

The eastern flank of NATO

The EU and NATO member states are also on the front lines of expanding the trans-Atlantic military alliance’s forces as the Ukraine-Russia conflict worsens next door.

Since the fighting began last week, almost 51,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled to Romania, according to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. As regional tensions grow, Romania has requested NATO reinforcements on its eastern frontiers.

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The United States has sent several armored vehicles and some 1,000 troops to Romania in recent weeks.

In the meantime, France will deploy about 500 troops to the eastern flank this week.

It comes after Germany sent six Eurofighter Typhoon planes and Italy sent four of the same planes.

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