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Update: Romania retires MiG-21

Romania retired the last of its MiG-21s on 15 May, bringing 61 years of operational service to an end. (Romanian Ministry of National Defence)

The Romanian Air Force (RoAF) has retired from service the last of its MiG-21 LanceR (R for Romania), with the final airframes being officially withdrawn on 15 May.

The RoAF marked the retirement with ceremonies at the 71st and 86th airbases in Campia Turzii and Borcea, respectively, before the last three aircraft from each base departed for the 95th Air Base in Bacau for storage. Janes World Air Forces (JWAF) lists the RoAF as having 17 single-seat LanceR Cs and eight two-seat LanceR Bs in service at the time of retirement.

The Aerostar and Elbit Systems LanceR programme was an upgrade contract for Romania's fleet of MiG-21s in the 1990s, with delivery of the last of 110 upgraded aircraft in 2003.

The withdrawal of the MiG-21 after 31 years of service leaves the RoAF with an all-Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fixed-wing combat force, with 17 such aircraft having been received from Portugal and a further 32 expected from Norway.

With the F-16 set to satisfy the RoAF's short- to medium-term air force requirements, its longer-term ambition is to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

This article, originally published on 16 May 2023, has been updated with new information.

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