The Minister of National Defence, Mihnea Motoc, has announced that the first six upgraded F16 aircraft will arrive in Romania over from Portugal on Wednesday. The DefMin labeled the day as ‘historical’.
“The first six F16 Fighting Falcons that bear the tricolour insignia of the Romanian Air Force will be officially taken over from Portugal tomorrow, September 28. Although I hesitate to use big words when I speak of acquisitions, be them major, I must say that tomorrow will be a truly historical day for Romania and its army,” Motoc posted on Facebook.
The aircraft have been upgraded, have new engines and were painted in several shades of gray. The first images of the F-16s painted in the colours chosen by the Romanian Air Forces were filmed by an amateur in Monte Real Air Base 5 in 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 initial intent was to buy 24 airplanes, but the final decision was for 12, for budgetary reasons. Beside the F16, offers were made by companies producing the JAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, the offers being for new aircraft. Furthermore, the offer for French Dassault Rafale planes was analyzed. The price for the 12 F16 aircraft was set at 628 million euro, the planes going on to be stationed at the air bases in Fetesti and Campia Turzii, two airbases especially modernized for this type of aircraft.
However, experts say that Romania needs 48 multirole aircraft, meaning four squadrons. In 2015, Romanian authorities announced the intention to buy other F16 airplanes.
Minister of Defence Mihnea Motoc stated in February that Romania intends to buy another 12 F16 airplanes.