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
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

Romanian Air Force Acquires More F-16 Jets from Norwegian Air Force F16 Fighters

According to a request from the Ministry of National Defense addressed to the Parliament, Romanian Air Force (RoAF) will purchase 32 F-16 fighter jets from Norway for 454 million euros, with 354 million euros for the aircraft and 100 million euros for logistical support and specific modernization equipment from the US government. Norway is shedding its F-16 fleet as it continues work on transitioning to the F-35. It has so far taken delivery of 34 of the fighter jets, with the latest batch arriving in Norway on December 9. Earlier this month, Norwegian defense ministry revealed it had reached an agreement with US adversary air services provider Draken International for the sale of up to 12 F-16 fighters to the company.

In order to continue the gradual supply of F-16 aircraft from the surplus of the Armed Forces of NATO member states, letters of inquiry (RFI) were sent in 2019 to the governments of NATO member states equipped with F-16 aircraft (Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Greece) on the availability to transfer 16-32 F-16 aircraft. The only solution currently identified as a result of the analysis of the responses received to the requests for information is the purchase by the Government of Norway of a package consisting of: 32 F-16 aircraft in M6.5.2 configuration (superior to the configuration of the 17 aircraft equipped ), logistics support equipment and training services,” says in the Ministry of National Defense’s request to the Parliament.

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Romanian Air Force F-16A Block 20 MLU 9
Romanian Air Force F-16A Block 20 MLU 9 (Photo: Bogdan PANTILIMON/Romanian Air Force)

Romanian Air Force acquired five surplus Lockheed Martin F-16s from Portuguese Air Force 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. Romania acquired the F-16 to replace its Warsaw Pact-era MiG-21 Fishbed fighters that were later upgraded by Israel to the Lancer standard. While the country builds up its new inventory it is being supported by NATO, which is flying air policing missions out of Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base near Constanta on the Black Sea. This Southern Air Policing mission also includes Bulgarian airspace as that country too begins the process of replacing its ageing Warsaw Pact-era MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters with the F-16.

In 2020, the U.S. 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.

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