Romania looks to buy former Norwegian Air Force F16 fighters

Romania buy F16 Norway
Norwegian F-16 takes off from Bodø Main Air Station, Norway. Romania is looking to purchase former RNoAF F-16s.

A few days after Norway's announcement of the sale of F-16 fighters to Draken International, another nation has shown strong interest in grabbing the remaining former Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) fighters. Romania's Ministry of Defense submitted a request to Parliament on Friday to buy 32 F-16 fighters from Norway to replace the older MiG-21 jets. Although the RNoAF fighters are around 40 years old and have a rather short operational life, they boast a configuration superior to that of the current 17 Romanian Air Force F-16s, according to the Romanian Ministry of Defense.

The F-16s offered for sale by Norway are of the type A/B Block 20 and were built between 1982 and 1984. They have been modernized over time and have already undergone the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) in 2001. They therefore have a similar configuration to that received by the RoAF F-16s following the purchase from Portugal.

The Norwegian F-16s have a shorter residual life than those procured by Portugal, having been flown more intensively. According to some sources, they remain with an operational life of 2,000 flight hours which could only be extended with major repairs and constant maintenance.

In addition to the purchase of the 32 aircraft, with a deal estimated at around 354 million euros (which perhaps also includes several spare parts), the Ministry of Defense said that the entire program foresees an additional expenditure of almost 100 million euros for logistics, training and modernization services.

This work will be carried out by the local company Aerostar Bacău which has already been designated as a center for the maintenance of the current 17 RoAF aircraft and for their modernization to the M6.X standard. This means that the possible deal with Norway would guarantee the Romanian company a new and large workflow.

Romania currently operates a squadron of 17 modernized F-16 aircraft which Bucharest bought in two tranches from Portugal and then upgraded with US support.

The first tranche involved 12 F-16 A/B Block 15 aircraft that the nation upgraded through an MLU program. They received the standard F-16 MLU 5.2R, which essentially brought them to a configuration similar to Block 40 with some elements of Block 50/52.

The entire package cost the nation around 628 million euros, including training the technical staff and the first pilots.

Romania subsequently purchased a further 5 F-16 aircraft from Portugal, also undergoing MLU modernization for approximately 280 million euros.

The RNoAF is expected to retire its current fleet of F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcons by the end of the year, handing over defense service to the new F-35A stealth fighter from 2022 onwards.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: USAF/Tech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann

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