Romania has completed the purchase of 12 Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons from Portugal, it was announced on 11 October.
The aircraft package is understood to be worth EUR186.2 million (USD252.6 million), including nine former Portuguese Air Force aircraft, and three former US Air Force aircraft supplied to Portugal for the resale under the US Excess Defense Article programme.
When in Romanian Air Force service the aircraft will progressively replace part of Romania's fleet of Russian built MiG-21 Lancer (upgraded 'Fishbed') fighter aircraft.
The contract also includes modifications and upgrades to the aircraft; additional engines; logistics support; and the training of 9 Romanian pilots and 69 maintenance technicians. The aircraft, nine single- and three twin-seaters, are to be upgraded in Portugal by the Portuguese Air Force with assistance of OGMA-Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal prior transfer to Romania.
Portugal will effectively receive EUR78 million from the sale, as the remaining money will be spent acquiring and upgrading the three US surplus aircraft and associated equipment.
The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in 2016 and initial operational capability achieved in 2017, the Portuguese Ministry of Defence stated.
It is understood that Romania will have to spend additional funds to build the necessary ground infra-structure and acquire spares, weaponry and airborne sensors.
Portugal has also been seeking a buyer for some of its F-16AM/BM aircraft since 2006, with discussions on a potential sale previously held with several countries worldwide.
The EU has previously lodged its opposition to the F-16 sale to Romania given its non-competitive nature.