Romania has launched the procedure for the acquisition of an additional 36 F-16 fighters to replace its obsolete MiG-21 Lancer fleet, Defence Minister Gabriel Leş told national television station TVR 1 on 6 March.
Leş spoke of “a further 36 F-16 airplanes that we have to buy so that we have some functional and capable squadrons to replace the old MIGs”. He expressed the intention of acquiring new-build aircraft but also mentioned the possibility of second-hand jets that would be upgraded by the Romanian defence industry.
The Forţele Aeriene Romane (Romanian Air Force, RoAF) already operates 12 F-16 Block 15 Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) fighters – nine single-seat F-16AMs and three twin-seat F-16BMs – acquired second hand from Portugal. The refurbished aircraft joined the 53rd Fighter Squadron at Feteşti in 2016–17 as part of a process that finally launched the long-postponed modernisation of the RoAF’s supersonic component consisting of Soviet-era MiG-21s upgraded by Elbit and Aerostar.
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