Romania is looking to acquire additional F-16 fighter jets to replace its ageing MiG-21 Lancer fighter aircraft, National Defense Minister Gabriel Les said.
According to Scramble Magazine, the National Defence Minister Gabriel Les announced that the Fortele Aeriene ale Romaniei (Romanian Air Force) started the procedure for acquiring more F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft to replace the last MiG-21 Lancer aircraft. It is reported that the air force expressed a need for 36 F-16 Fighting Falcons.
To date, Romania bought a total of secondhand 12 F-16 Block 15 Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) fighter jets (nine F-16AMs and three F-16BMs) from Portugal and officially took delivery the first six in late September.
Minister Gabriel El also reported that starting on 14 March 2019, the Romanian Air Force commenced flying Air Policing missions under Romanian command with the Baza 86 Aeriana F-16s. In the past, these missions were flown with its MiG-21s. In the near future, Romania will also conduct these kinds of missions under NATO command after the squadron will complete the NATO certification process.
“On Thursday, 14 March, the F-16 National Air Police Service will be operational. So far, we conducted this service with MIG aircraft, if we are to talk about the Romanian Air Forces,” said Gabriel Les.
According to the current information, the Block 15 change feature larger horizontal stabilizers, the addition of two hardpoints to the chin inlet, an improved AN/APG-66(V)2 radar, and increased capacity for the underwing hardpoints. The Block 15 also gained the Have Quick II secure UHF radio. To counter the additional weight of the new hardpoints, the horizontal stabilizers were enlarged by 30%. Block 15 is the most numerous variant of the F-16, with 983 produced.