U.S., Poland, Greece offer to sell more F-16 fighters to Romania
The U.S., Poland, and Greece are among the states who offered to sell more batches of F-16 fighter aircraft to Romania.
Romania officially entered the F-16 program by taking over the first six of the 12 fighters bought from Portugal and modernized by American company Lockheed Martin. The country has spent EUR 628 million for the first squadron of F-16s but needs at least 24 more to have its airspace defended properly, according to Romanian officials quoted by Digi24.
Romania's ultimate goal is to join the F-35 program, which could happen over some 20 years.
Romania’s minister of defense Mihnea Motoc went to Portugal on Wednesday, September 28, to attend the official ceremony during which the Romanian Air Forces took over the first six F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
The ceremony took place at the Monte Real Air Base, in the presence of Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and defense minister José Alberto de Azeredo Lopes, and Romanian defense minister Mihnea Motoc. The planes, which will be operated from the Locotenent aviator Gheorghe Mociorniță 86 Air Base in Fetesti, arrived in Romania on Thursday.
During the ceremony, the Romanian minister said that September 28 would remain in the Romanian Air Force’s history as the day when the first F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft officially wore the Romanian tricolor on their fuselage.
“Taking over these fighter jets represents the entry into the “F-16 club,” and the chance for a new beginning for the Romanian school of pilots, which boasts some of the oldest traditions in the world, and which now has the opportunity to contribute to the training of elite pilots,” Motoc added.
He also highlighted the fact that operating the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft represents Romania’s condition of eligibility for accession to the F-35 program - the ultimate goal of the country’s ambitious program to modernize the combat aviation.
Romania has bought 12 F-16 fighters from Portugal. The 12 used aircraft have, on average, 4,000 hours of flight and have resources for at least another 4,000 hours, after being revamped and upgraded by American company Lockheed Martin. The other six aircraft will probably be delivered by the end of this year or at the beginning of next year.
Irina Popescu, email@example.com
(Photo source: MApN, Eugen Mihai)