Romanian Air Force to buy F-16 fighter jets

Romania is going to acquire a set of F-16s in the near future. The bargain offer comes from Portugal that has been undergoing serious financial problems due to the latest financial crisis.

F-16 PoAF

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Dusa, Romanian Minister of Defence said that the agreement to replace MiG-21s Lancers flying in the Romanian Air Force is going to be signed by the end of May and finalized in September this year with the help of Lockheed-Martin in scope of modernizing the jets.

The quantity of Vipers that would go to the Romanian AF would be 12 pieces – that is a size of a single Squadron.

During last week’s visit of Minister Dusa in Lisbon, the F-16 deal was one of the major topics of the talks.

The pay is going to be about 670 million euro, with 120 for the planes. The rest of the money is going to cover the logistics and technical support.

The planes which are going to be passed to the Romanian AF are said to come from the 1999 Peace Atlantis II program, and they were used jets, which have been flying since 1984 in USAF. In this way the Romanian deal is different from Polish Air Force set of F-16s which were bought new directly from Lockheed Martin with a benefit package stemming from the offset.

What is most controversial about the deal is the technical status of the said aircraft, which have accumulated around 3,500 flying hours.

The Romanian Air Force operates 48 MiG-21 Lancers which were modernized with the help of Israelis, nevertheless their service life is slowly coming to an end with 40 years of flying.

The F-16s are said to be usable for at least next 20 years, for around 4,000 – 4,500 flying hours.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.


  1. I dunno, maybe it’s just something wrong with me, but I don’t understand why these countries(ones where you can stand on one border and piss clear across to the opposite one) are bothering to spend these millions. I mean if there’s any serious threat then that single 12plane squad is not going to save em, and if we’re considering the likely threats(terrorism and organized crime and such) then these planes are simply overkill. Have they nothing better to spend on? The only problem Romania is having is a lack of a dozen jets? I didn’t so… weird stuff going on these days…

      • No they are not. All the fleet has been upgraded to MLU standard (just a couple of them left on the final stage), and the aircraft from the second lot (those destined for export) have also undergone the Falcon UP and Falcon STAR structural reinforcement programs. They are AMRAAM, LGB and JDAM capable and so a still modern platform for both air defense and strike missions.
        There’s no need for LM intervention in “modernizing the jets” as they have already been modernized… and are at the same level as other EPAF countries.

          • The airframes were built long ago, but were stored for more than 10 years, both in the US and in Portugal (pending the MLU upgrade). They have a lot of flying hours left on them, and as such can perfectly serve as a gap filler until Romania has financial means to buy a more modern aircraft.
            Anyway, Portugal will still use the remainder for a long time, so Romania is not alone.

          • Mr. Siminski, my name is Carlos Gomes and I’m a longtime portuguese aviation enthusiast and occasional military aviation freelance reporter. Not wanting to be controversial, but this whole article is a bit bias, if you permit me saying it. As Mr. AC has so well explained you, “our” Peace Atlantis II aircraft have all been modernized to MLU Tape M5, and have also undergone both the Falcon UP and STAR structural reinforcement programs, except for two that are already in the last stages of the process. Furthermore, both Lockheed Martin and the USAF have highly praized the Portuguese Air Force for the excellency of their work since most of the MLU transformation was undertaken at Monte Real Air Base, something unique worldwide.

        • That’s 100% correct. These Peace Atlantis II birds, as we call it around here, have been operating without any problems with Squadron’s 201 “Falcons” and 301 “Jaguars”, both internally and abroad. I could understand the use of the term “obsolete” due to the age of the airframes, but since what they already have been through, it’s a bit of nonsense to say it. What would Mr. Siminski then say about our Alouette III fleet that last week reached the 50 years of operation milestone? As if that choppers were still or exactly the same as the ones purchased half a century ago.

  2. Romania is not the country you are imagining. Do you know your geography? Romania is one of the largest countries in Europe with one of the most vibrant and younger population.
    Why do they need certain things? Maybe because they have good neighbors. Romania was one of the most sophisticated countries in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. Still the communism brought upon them by the “good neighbors” just about destroyed that beautiful country which people used to call “Small America”. Please go back to school and by the way while you doing your geography, learn to talk more civilized as well.

  3. Romania should have got the the 48 new Gripens, and have them assembled locally – there is plenty of local expertise in that. With 100% offset offered by the Swedish government.

    Instead, the went for ancient F16 – in a couple of years after paying for 12, they may have 3 in flying condition at any time.

    That’s what happened with the ancient Hercules aircraft bought from US – payed for 6, only 2 are in flying condition and other 2 have been already cannibalized.

    The only ones winning from this deal is US government and the Russians who are laughing their asses off, taking the mickey at any opportunity.

    The losers are the image of Romania, their air force, their pilots, Romania’s defence and not least, the Romanians themselves for being betrayed by dodgy deals like this one.

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