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 Exercise Viper Lance 2008 Cāmpia Turzii (Romania)
In memoriam
Laurenţiu KIRU Chiriţă * 1970 † 2010

From August 22 to September 5 aircraft and personnel of U.S. Air Force in Europe (USAFE) 31st Fighter Wing (FW), 510th Fighter Squadron (FS) from Aviano deployed to Romanian Air Force (RoAF) base Cāmpia Turzii to take part in exercise Viper Lance 2008. On the occasion of a media day on September 5 the author was given the chance to visit the base.

Thanks to a large banner at Cāmpia Turzii control tower every visitor is aware the host and its aircraft.


A total of 12 F-16 of 510th Fighter Squadron (FS) were deployed to Cāmpia Turzii for the two-week exercise.


F-16C taking of from Cāmpia Turzii. Though they carried no air-to ground ordnance, aircraft simulated Close Air Support (CAS) missions over Cincu range in Central Romania using their AN/AAQ-14 LANTIRN targeting pods.


MiG-21 LanceR B passing by. 21 of the 32 participating US pilots were given the chance to fly backseat.


MiG-21 LanceR C and F-16C make a fly pass over Cāmpia Turzii. While F-16 were flying with their standard weapon load of AMRAAMs and Sidewinders Romanian aircraft took off without missile armament.


MiG-21 LanceR B taxies back to the flightline. 12 participating US aircraft were pitted aganst only six Romanian ones.


In direct encounter MiG-21 LanceR's avionics proved to be comparable to that of the F-16.


Two F-16D return to Cāmpia Turzii after a mission during Viper Lance 08.


An F-16D touches down against the backdrop of Soviet-style ground equipment. Though Romania and NATO heavily invested in new infrastructure at the base, still a lot of equipment from the socialist era is in use.


Pilots of both participating units line up for a souvenir photo in front of their aircraft.


Căpitan Comandor Laurenţiu KIRU Chiriţă (right), commander of the resident 712 FS, was exercise director of Viper Lance 08 with Lieutenant Colonel Lance SPIKE Landrum, commander of the 510th FS, acting as his deputy.

Author thanks Căpitan Comandor Laurenţiu Chiriţă, Căpitan Comandor Lian Someşan, Locotenent Comandor Marian Dobre and all Romanian officials who made the visit possible.