Romanian Air Force (Forțele Aeriene Române) plans to acquiredr five surplus Lockheed Martin F-16s from Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa) and will upgrade the 12 examples of the fighter already in its fleet. The aircrafts that Portugal will sell to Romania will be modernized and updated at the Monte Real Air Base, according to a source from the Portuguese Ministry of Defense (Ministério da Defesa Nacional). At the ceremony to officialize the sale of the aircraft, Minister of Defense João Gomes Cravinho said the fighters were going to be modernized and updated at OGMA – Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal SA. In June the first aircraft will be handed over, in October two more and the last one will be in early 2021.
The €130 million deal includes, in addition to the F-16 fighters, technical conversion to Romanian specifications and the work of the Portuguese Air Force in Romania for information transmission and maintenance. The five new aircraft will have the same M.5.2R configuration as Romania’s existing 12 F-16s, but Bucharest says all 17 will be raised to a new standard it calls M.6.X. In addition, the contract will boost the technical expertise of the Romanian air force, says the defence ministry, including the ability to overhaul and repair the F-16’s Pratt & Whitney F100 engine and modernise the platform.
Romania procured its first batch of 12 F-16s from Portugal under a government-to-government deal inked on October the 11th, 2013. These consisted of nine single-seat A-standard units acquired by Portugal from the U.S. in 1999 under the Peace Atlantis II program, as well as three two-seat B-standard fighters purchased by Portugal in used condition from the U.S. through its Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program for resale. The 12 fighters underwent revamps and upgrading to the AM/BM standard by Lockheed Martin prior to delivery, which began on September the 27th, 2016, with the handover of the first six units. This was followed by the delivery of three more on December the 13th, 2016; the final three units arrived in October 2017.
The Minister of Defence also said that the two countries will work together within NATO and the EU and that the strengthening of cooperation with Romania is being studied in a number of areas. Romania is interested in Portugal textile industry, which has equipped Portugal Armed Forces, and also talked about the possibility of working together at GEOMETOC – Centre of Excellence of Nato in Portugal, Romania’s centre of excellence on human intelligence, which is of interest to Portugal, and collaboration in space. He also mentioned that both countries feel the need “to strengthen their naval capabilities, with the construction of ships in Portugal and Romania”.