Flights suspended after mystery objects spotted in sky above Romania and Moldova

Flights suspended after mystery objects spotted in sky above Romania and Moldova
A flight escort mission of a Nato delegation over Romania in 2022. /
By bne IntelliNews February 15, 2023

Moldova temporarily closed its airspace on February 14 and Romania mobilised military jets in response to reports of mysterious objects floating in the sky above the two countries. 

The incidents occurred shortly after midday local time in the two countries that both border Ukraine. Neither Romania nor Moldova commented on the suspected origin of the aerial objects. 

Romania's defence ministry dispatched two jets to investigate an object detected by radar systems at an altitude of approximately 11,000 metres at around 12.30. According to the ministry, the object appeared to be small and had characteristics similar to a weather balloon. 

However, despite an aerial search lasting about 30 minutes, the object was not confirmed by the pilots or radar systems.

“The Romanian authorities applied all standard procedures from the moment the object was detected, and two MiG-21 LanceR aircraft of the Romanian Air Force from the Air Police combat service under Nato command took off from the 86th Fetesti Air Base at around 12.40 p.m., being directed to the area where the air target was reported,” a ministry statement said. 

“The crews of the two aircraft did not confirm the presence of the aerial target, neither visually nor on the onboard radars. The aircraft were kept in the area for about 30 minutes, for the full clarification of the air situation, after which they returned to the air base,” it added. 

“The Romanian Air Force constantly monitors, in cooperation with the Allied forces, the national airspace and the area in the vicinity.” 

Also around 12.30, Moldova’s defence ministry “received information that an unidentified small object similar to a weather balloon was detected in the airspace of the Republic of Moldova in the region of the city of Soroca,” said a statement from the Civil Aviation Authority. 

In Moldova, the incident resulted in significant travel disruptions and momentary panic, as authorities temporarily closed the airspace above the northern border with Ukraine. Dozens of flights were either canceled or rescheduled. 

“Considering the weather conditions and the impossibility of monitoring and identifying the object as well as its flight path, in order to ensure the safety and security of citizens … at 13:24 the decision was taken to temporarily close air space. After verifying the information and ensuring the absence of any danger to the safety of citizens, at the proposal of the Ministry of Defence, at 14:46 the airspace was reopened,” added the statement published by the defence ministry. 

The sightings follow a series of similar incidents this month in the US, where warplanes shot down objects in the air, including a high-altitude Chinese balloon that had crossed American airspace. China claimed it was a weather balloon that had inadvertently gone off course.