The first six F-16s have entered officially on Friday in the Romanian Army. Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos and Defense Minister Mihnea Motoc have participated in Fetesti military base at the ceremony occasioned by the arrival in the country of the first F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. The six aircraft were taken over on September 28, at the Portuguese base of Monte Real, in a ceremony attended by the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Luis Santos Da Costa, and Portuguese Minister of Defense Jose Alberto de Azeredo Lopes.
“I welcome this strategic decision taken by Romanian decision-makers in 2013. It is indeed a historic day for Romania and for the Romanian Air Force and I think it is a day deserved by the Romanian Air Forces. Our evolution in line with the Alliance necessitated the incorporation of NATO’s transformation in the process of adapting its system of defence in an efficient manner by avoiding the dissipation of effort and resources. Thus, Romania has set a level of ambition clearly outlined in which the purchase from Portugal of the first set of high performance multirole aircraft is a major investment in increasing the capability of our defence,” PM Dacian Cioloş said on Friday in his speech at the ceremony at Feteşti Air Base.
Cioloş recalled that Romania has “an important national political agreement” that 2% of GDP is allocated for defence in 2017.
At the same time, the Romanian Prime Minister thanked the Portuguese Government for their support in the carrying out of the agreement signed in 2013, calling it a model of cooperation that can expand in several areas, including in the economic one.
Together with Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, the ceremony was also attended by Deputy PM Costin Borc and Defence Ministers of Romania and Portugal.
The F-16s have had their engines changed and went through a process of modernization, called mid-life upgrade – improvements at the mid-cycle of operations.
The Romanian pilots that will operate the F-16s were trained by the Portuguese specialists. After two years of training at the basis of Monte Real, our air forces have nine F-16 pilots and 80 engineers and technicians who will handle the maintenance of these aircraft.
Three years ago, Romania decided to buy twelve F-16 aircraft from the Portuguese Air Forces. The other six aircraft will arrive early next year. For them, plus for the spare parts and for the training of pilots and technicians, the Army has paid EUR 628 million. However, the Romanian Air Forces still need at least 36 to 48 F-16s.