Romanian Air Force F-16A Block 20 MLU 9
Romanian Air Force F-16A Block 20 MLU 9

US Approves $175 Million Upgrade Package for Romanian F-16s

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Romania of F-16 Modernization and Logistics Support and related equipment for an estimated cost of $175.4 million. The F-16s to be upgraded are second-hand aircraft bought from Portugal, which had already upgraded them to the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) standard. A total of 17 airframes (14 A-models and 3 B-models) were acquired second-hand from Portugal in 2016 and 2020. This batch first originated from the Peace Atlantis II order that Portugal itself placed with the United States in the 1990’s. So this marks the first time F-16s are sold for a second time to fly for a third country in their careers. Deliveries of these airframes started in August of 2020 with the last foreseen in early 2021.

The Government of Romania has requested to buy upgrades to the avionics, software, communication equipment, navigational aids, and cockpit of its Mid-Life Update (MLU) Block 15 F-16 aircraft fleet along with additional logistics support. Included in the aircraft modernization are eight (8) LN-260 Global Positioning System (GPS) and nineteen (19) Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems (MIDS JTRS). Also included is AN/APX-126 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF); ARC-210 Radios; KIV-78 Cryptographic Appliques; other secure communications, navigation, and encryption devices; Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) software; aircraft minor modification, integration and test support, support equipment, software and software support; personnel training; spare and repair parts.

Two Romanian F-16 Fighting Falcons — which have just been approved for upgrades by the U.S. State Department — fly below a U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker above Bucharest, Romania (Photo by by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber/U.S. Air Force)

The proposed sale will improve Romania’s capability to meet current and future threats by upgrading its avionics to meet interoperability requirements for encrypted communications systems used by NATO forces. This increased secure communications capability will assist Romania in the defense of its homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there. Romania has demonstrated a significant financial commitment to modernizing its military, which will further enhance its interoperability with NATO. Romania will have no difficulty absorbing these capabilities into its armed forces. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Fort Worth, TX. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,600 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.

Romanian Air Force F-16A Block 20 MLU 9 (Photo: Bogdan PANTILIMON – ForÅ£ele Aeriene Române/Romanian Air Force)